WHERE WE WORK
South LA’s Vernon-Central Neighborhood
CRCD serves South LA’s Vernon-Central neighborhood in Los Angeles, California. Located immediately south of downtown Los Angeles and east of the 110 Harbor Freeway, Vernon-Central has:
- A rich cultural history
- Signs of emerging economic opportunity, &
- Complex socioeconomic challenges
Vernon-Central is renowned for its role in jazz history from the 1920’s to 1950’s on Central Avenue, which served as the social, cultural, & economic hub of LA’s African American community. In its heyday, Central Avenue jazz clubs drew crowds to see stars such as Duke Ellington & Billie Holiday. Vernon-Central is home to nationally-recognized historic landmarks such as:
- Historic Dunbar Hotel, built in 1928 by John and Vada Somerville (now co-owned by CRCD and Thomas Safran & Associates, providing affordable housing to elders in the community)
- Historic 28th Street YMCA, designed in 1926 by architect Paul R. Williams (now co-owned by CRCD and Clifford Beers Housing, providing affordable housing and youth services as the 28th Street Apartments and VCN YouthSource Center)
- Ralph Bunche House, the childhood home of Nobel Peace Prize Winner Ralph Bunche (now owned by the City of Los Angeles)
Today, the Vernon-Central neighborhood is densely populated with 108,667 residents; 89% identify as Latino & 10% identify as Black/African-American.
The neighborhood’s historic Central Avenue serves as the home of the annual Central Avenue Jazz Festival, commemorating the legendary jazz history of the Avenue. Thousands of Angelenos enjoy the free festival every summer.
Central Avenue is home to businesses such as Bowers & Sons Cleaners (open for 50+ years) and Las Palmas Carnicería (try their chorizo!). Momentum is underway to create a business improvement district, and LA City Councilman Curren D. Price, Jr., Ninth District, offers a Business Resource Center at his field office. Central Avenue is also part of LA City Mayor Eric Garcetti’s Great Streets Initiative.
At the same time, the Vernon-Central neighborhood has a concentration of poverty and unemployment:
- 32% of 18-24-year olds, and 39% of families, have incomes below poverty, compared to 26% and 16% citywide (US Census)
- The unemployment rate in 2013 was 15.7%, compared to 10.9% citywide (CA Employment Development Dept.)
- 40% of young people age 18-24, and 65% of adults age 25 & older, do not have a high school diploma (US Census)
To revitalize the neighborhood, and create opportunities for youth, CRCD collaborates with partners such as All Peoples Community Center, LA Conservation Corps, LA Trade Technical College, the City of Los Angeles, and others.