The mission of the Los Angeles Community Action Network (LA CAN) is to help people dealing with poverty create & discover opportunities, while serving as a vehicle to ensure they have voice, power & opinion in the decisions that are directly affecting them.
Our overarching goals focused on social change are:
•Organize and empower community residents to work collectively to change the relationships of power that affect our community.
•Create an organization and organizing model that eradicate the race, class, gender barriers that are used to prevent communities from building true power.
•Eliminate the multiple forms of violence used against and within our community to maintain status quo.
The organizing principle of the LA CAN is to build indigenous leadership within the Central City East community to address the multitude of problems faced by homeless and very low-income residents of the community. Our community has long been disenfranchised and ignored or has had “leaders” that were not representative of the community speak on its behalf. The service-rich community of Central City East has led to a dysfunctional culture of dependence reinforced by outdated program rules and illegal practices utilized by slum-lords and oftentimes law enforcement. This “culture,” based on taking orders and not questioning the necessity of those orders, has led to the creation of community norms which counter those things needed to achieve widespread systemic change. This reality is what led to the formation of LA CAN and continues to drive the need to build indigenous leadership equipped to build power and make systemic change.
The four organizing strategies employed by LA CAN are:
1. Legal: Protecting the civil rights of homeless and low-income people utilizing impact litigation that protects the overall community. For example, a) City Center Redevelopment Plan Lawsuit, b) Anti-poverty litigation such as, anti-sweep and quality of life defenses, and c) Residential Hotel lawsuits aimed at unfair business practices, ongoing tenant defense and habitability complaints.
2. Community Education & Empowerment: Building a broad base of informed residents that possess the tools necessary to defend their tenant, civil and human rights, both on the streets and in residential hotels. For example, one-on-one education in the streets [as a part of overall outreach], monthly teach-ins for downtown residents, community lawyering and ongoing legal clinics.
3. Community Organizing and Leadership Development: Building a broad base organization of informed leaders and constituents who understand gentrification and its many tenets and are equipped to fight for progressive redevelopment policy and its tangible benefits. For example, implementation of the LA CAN leadership development program, securing local hiring agreements, stopping the 28-Day Shuffle, and promoting voter engagement as a means of civic participation.
4. Grassroots Policy and Community-Based Research: Developing grassroots policy that promotes opportunities for living-wage employment and affordable housing that meets the income levels of our constituents. In addition, investigating, monitoring and enforcing current policy that should benefit our constituents. For example, the Share the Wealth Platform, local hiring and training provisions in redevelopment law, and changing the Rent Stabilization Ordinance to create parity between residential hotel and apartment tenants.