This is Not Good-LA’s Gang Problem Just Got Worse-Homeboy Industries Lays off Most Employees


This is such a troubling story..We have to find a way to make sure Homeboy Industries doesn’t shut down.. Can’t we get some of these radio stations to do a a few summer jam concerts? cant Hollywood have a fund-raiser?

Gov Arnold Scwartznegger is setting us up to fail.. 300 unemployed gang members and next month he’s releasing a few thousand folks from over crowded jails .. No jobs, no money.. meanwhile we have greedy bankers getting billions-I repeat BILLIONS in bonuses..

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZoyMGtlC-do

L.A.’s Homeboy Industries lays off most employees

The institution dedicated to helping gang members quit lives of crime has been unable to raise the $5 million it needs. A quarter of the staff will remain.

May 13, 2010: Young man after young man hugged Fr. Greg Boyle and shoock his hand and Homeboy Industies in Los Angeles, CA May 13, 2010.

Homeboy Industries, the Los Angeles institution whose mission for more than 20 years has been to turn jobs into a recipe for saving the lives of gang members, laid off most of its employees Thursday because of crushing financial problems.

Father Gregory Boyle, who started Homeboy Industries in Boyle Heights during the height of the city’s gang wars, said 300 people were laid off, including all senior staff and administrators. Boyle said he has stopped taking a paycheck.

“We let people know so they could apply for unemployment, which I’m going to do as well,” he said.

Inside the organization’s headquarters at Alameda and Bruno streets in Chinatown, employees — many of them former gang members — took turns embracing and consoling Boyle. Young men crowded around him and promised to come back even without pay.

“We love you, G. We’ll be here tomorrow,” said one. The 55-year-old priest called it a “Frank Capra moment,” but he was noticeably dejected.

For two decades, Homeboy Industries has offered counseling, removed tattoos and helped gang members find jobs. Its motto: “Nothing stops a bullet like a job.”

But Boyle said no amount of campaigning and fundraising could make up the roughly $5 million the organization needed to operate. He said pleas for donations had resulted in some help, but not nearly enough.

He acknowledged that the people Homeboy Industries helps have always been a hard sell, and more so when the economy is struggling.

“If these were puppies or little kids, we wouldn’t be in this trouble,” he said. “But they’re tattooed gang members with records. So I think a lot of people love this place, but not the folks who can write the big checks, the ‘Save the Hollywood sign’ check.”

The only employees not laid off were more than 100 who work in the organization’s businesses, including its store, bakery and Homegirl Cafe. Boyle said that for the moment, the social services offered would continue, precariously, only because employees said they would keep coming. Eventually, like others left in the lurch by the worst economic downturn since the 1930s, many would need to find work elsewhere.

“We cobbled together payrolls since November. But it was not enough to save us,” Boyle said. “Hope has left the building a little bit. Miracles happen. They just haven’t happened for us lately.”

Still, the priest emphasized to his staff that this was not the end for Homeboy Industries.

Boyle acknowledged some blunders. When he embarked on a campaign to raise money to buy the building on Alameda Street, the organization did not factor in enough money to pay for operations that serve more than 12,000 gang members and former gang members a year, he said.

The $5 million “should have been included in our capital campaign, and it wasn’t,” Boyle said. “And that was our error…. We sort of forgot that we were going to put a program in this place.”

Homeboy Industries probably would have weathered that mistake, but then the recession struck — and the organization became busier.

“The recession happened, and everyone and his mother, every ZIP Code that has a gang had people coming here from all over the county,” Boyle said.

Homeboy Industries has gotten plaudits from influential politicians, celebrities and, increasingly, high-ranking LAPD officials — though over the years, rank-and-file officers have been critical, calling Boyle an apologist for gangbangers who don’t always change.

But Boyle has become an L.A. icon because of his work, with some supporters saying he should be considered for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Hector Verdugo, 35, a former gang member from Boyle Heights who became a top administrator at Homeboy Industries, said it was only natural that the priest’s wards would try to comfort him when they saw him crying Thursday. Together, they prayed in the lobby and vowed to return as long as they could, even without pay.

“Everyone just said, ‘Thank you, G, for bringing us this far,’ ” said Verdugo, a father of three. “But this isn’t the end. Like Father G said, this is just a pause.”

hector.becerra@latimes.com

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6 comments on “This is Not Good-LA’s Gang Problem Just Got Worse-Homeboy Industries Lays off Most Employees

  1. Hopefully these brothers can remain true to their original plan of overcoming their past lives. With unity and hard work they could reach out to so many others trapped in the game and help get their minds right too. Sadly, conditions in this country are going from bad to wore in a hurry.

  2. Hopefully they had a strong culture of a focus on “self” so instead of engaging in crime, each one of these “former gang members” can hopefully begin to create their own businesses and projects….and take what they learned from this experience and do it better.
    If so, then the gang problem won’t get worse because of this…it will get better.

    Assuming these are men and not children.

    Gotta learn to adapt.

  3. So why does “Hollywood” have to have a fundraiser? Why does the radio station have to do anything? Why can’t “we” do for self? What’s going to happen is that you’re going to see more black vs brown violence, you know the stuff you don’t want to acknowledge.. yeah that stuff is going to jump off more. and who is going to be the primary perps.. it won’t be the brothers, naw. it’s going to be all our wonderful Southside homeboys who will be tearin stuff up.

  4. aint gonna happen Jose.. I know u wish it would.. But its not.. folks are stepping up to do the fundraiser.. wishful thinking though..LOL..But its not happening..

  5. Jose you make it sound like blacks are only going to get it from Mexicans. Whites are going to set out to destroy blacks, too. The prison system is going to target blacks. The stuck on stupid educational system is going to target blacks. The entertainment industry is going to continue to feed blacks poison. Nobody is going to put as much money and effort into destroying blacks as white people are. And when you consider that the Mexicans who kill blacks will be doing so on streets owned by white people, and with guns manufactured and sold by white people, it’s pretty easy to figure out whose bidding they’re doing.

  6. Davey’s right. This black on brown thing is blown out of proportion, anyway. It’s really just a few gangs going at it like that. Blacks and Mexicans in LA aren’t as cool with each other as they are up here, but they’re not at war, either. You have the Maravilla gangs which occupy almost all of East LA proper and they have no loyalty to the Mexican Mafia, the prison gang that’s really putting the Mexican street gangs at war with blacks up to it. They’re just doing the Mexican Mafia’s bidding. Tha’ts what all of this is about. It’s not about the political or social riffs between blacks and Mexicans in LA because if it were shit would be jumping off everywhere, and it’s not.

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