LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Mayor Eric Garcetti and hip hop mogul Russell Simmons were on hand Monday for the grand reopening of the newly renovated Community Coalition Headquarters in South Los Angeles.
The facility, which underwent a $5 million makeover, is a haven for local teens like 16-year-old Jathan Melendez.
“You see drug addicts, walking the streets,” Jathan said. “For a long time, that was normal to me because nobody was telling me that was not the right way to go.”
Jathan now has direction, thanks to a program that picks up students and buses them straight to the Community Coalition Headquarters. Supporters say the work that’s being done here combats some of the recent headlines of deadly gang violence in South LA.
Timothy Walker is an 18-year-old success story who’s starting at San Francisco State in the fall.
“They really provided me with a space where I can focus on my academics,” Walker said.
Congresswoman Karen Bass founded the Community Coalition, which was formed in the 90s to combat the area’s economic despair and gang violence associated with crack cocaine. The group moved into this building a few years after the L.A. riots.
“We had to get rid of all of the windows because it wasn’t safe. The fact that they were able to put the windows back speaks to the transformation of this area,” Bass said.