Exclusive Content:

Florida man won’t be charged in shooting death of Tampa college student

No expenses will probably be filed towards a...

L.A. civic leaders mourn former Mayor Richard Riordan

In a concrete cathedral on the fringe...

L.A. housing prices push many LAUSD workers to strike


Earlier than the solar rose, Yadira Martinez, a particular schooling assistant at Florence Avenue Elementary Faculty in South L.A., shuttled round her tiny kitchen, sauteing eggs and potatoes to share along with her fellow strikers earlier this week on the picket line.

She joked concerning the tight confines: “You flip round, take one step and also you’re on the sink.”

Martinez, 53, has labored for L.A. Unified for 28 years, spending her days caring for younger youngsters with disabilities, altering their diapers, feeding them and educating them. She makes about $32,000 a yr and lives in low-income housing, paying $1,450 a month for a two-bedroom, one-bath, 750-square-foot condominium.

She shares a mattress along with her 18-year-old granddaughter; her teenage daughter sleeps on the bunk above them. Her dresser is in the lounge, throughout from a small stitching station the place she makes aprons, which she sells to complement her earnings.

Yadira Martinez provides her 24-year-old son Leonardo Hernandez meals she ready for picketers.

(Irfan Khan/Los Angeles Occasions)

“It’s a dream of mine to have my very own room,” she mentioned.

For Martinez and plenty of different public college employees who went on strike for 3 days this week, the crux of their struggle is the power to dwell decently in Los Angeles, the place the exorbitant price of housing exerts a brutal burden on the working class, forcing households to dwell in overcrowded properties or pushing employees to commute for hours to extra inexpensive communities.

The typical yearly wage of the bus drivers, custodians, particular schooling assistants, cafeteria employees and different members of Native 99 of Service Staff Worldwide Union is $25,000. The median hire for a newly listed one-bedroom condominium in L.A. County was $1,619 in February, based on House Record — greater than $19,400 per yr.

In a survey of about 3,300 members performed by the union final yr, about 10% of employees reported having been homeless sooner or later whereas working for the district. Almost 30% reported being at “excessive threat” of changing into homeless.

L.A. Unified has acknowledged its employees’ struggles to pay for housing, and within the final a number of years has labored with nonprofit builders to finish three inexpensive housing initiatives throughout the district.

Yadira Martinez designs and sews aprons and bags to supplement her income from district.

Yadira Martinez, who works for LAUSD as particular schooling assistant, designs and sews aprons and baggage to complement her earnings from the district.

(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Occasions)

These initiatives resulted in 185 items in complexes in Gardena, Hollywood and South L.A., greater than 80% of which have been leased to district workers. The district can be exploring the potential for extra housing initiatives, mentioned district spokeswoman Shannon Haber.

She mentioned L.A. Unified “has led the inexpensive housing for workers effort within the state and till lately, the District was the one college district in California to take action.”

However the district’s housing initiatives attain solely a restricted variety of employees, and every one has a wait checklist with greater than 100 individuals.

Staff say the most important impact would come from larger salaries.

“The district is the second-largest employer in L.A. County,” mentioned Blanca Gallegos, an SEIU Native 99 spokeswoman. “To deal with the problem of homelessness that everyone has been speaking about, a method is to enhance jobs and enhance wages so that individuals working right here in Los Angeles can dwell right here within the metropolis.”

The union is aiming to boost the typical yearly wage of its employees to $36,000 — a 30% increase plus a further $2 an hour for the bottom paid. The strike, which the union has mentioned is supposed to protest alleged unfair labor practices, ended Thursday with Mayor Karen Bass set to proceed mediating the dispute.

Henry Argueta sits at his computer in his apartment.

Particular schooling assistant Henry Argueta makes $32,890 a yr, and the hire for his condominium in one among LAUSD’s affording housing initiatives in Hollywood is $1,300 — almost half his earnings.

(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Occasions)

Henry Argueta, 68, has labored for the district as a particular schooling assistant since 2008. He’s among the many staffers who managed to safe a unit in one of many district’s inexpensive housing initiatives in Hollywood. Earlier than that, he rented a small studio in Pico-Union that had been transformed from a motel room.

“You might barely stroll in there,” he mentioned. “The heater was working, however there was no air con in any respect. And it obtained actually scorching.”

His new place is a one-bedroom with air con, heating, underground parking and a view of Sundown Boulevard. However his hire has gone up since he moved in three years in the past. He now pays about $1,300 a month — or almost half of the $32,890 he earned final yr in his job with the district. He works a second job serving to on political campaigns to make ends meet.

Henry Argueta, a special education assistant in LAUSD, sits in his apartment

“I’m very fortunate to pay what I’m paying proper now,” mentioned particular schooling assistant Henry Argueta of his $1,300-a-month hire. However “it’s nonetheless not that inexpensive.”

(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Occasions)

“I’m very fortunate to pay what I’m paying proper now,” he mentioned. However, he added, “it’s nonetheless not that inexpensive.”

Gary Payne, 59, a buildings and grounds employee at San Pedro Excessive Faculty, has labored for the district for about 10 years and earns slightly below $20 an hour. He works full time, which places him in a greater place than lots of his co-workers within the union who work solely half time. Nonetheless, he mentioned he needed to transfer to Menifee so as to have the ability to afford a house.

His commute is 90 miles every means. He wakes up lengthy earlier than daybreak and drives for Uber on his technique to San Pedro, with a purpose to assist pay his mortgage and different payments.

“I’m pushing it,” he mentioned. However he retains going to make sure that he’ll be capable of retire in a number of years.

Martinez was in her 20s, working as a waitress and going to school, uncertain about what she would do along with her life, when a pal requested whether or not she could be excited by working at a college with youngsters with disabilities. She began as a volunteer and rapidly fell in love with the job, she mentioned. When she’s on campus she looks like a second guardian to the children.

Yadira Martinez joins the picket line at Florence Avenue Elementary School on Wednesday.

Yadira Martinez joins the picket line at Florence Avenue Elementary Faculty on Wednesday.

(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Occasions)

“In the event that they fall they usually hit their knees, we hug them,” she mentioned. “In the event that they’re not feeling nicely, we all know.”

She begins her work day early within the morning, supervising youngsters on the college bus, which she began doing to earn further pay.

“These hours assist loads,” she mentioned.

A couple of years in the past, she began making aprons with pockets which are designed for college employees to maintain their provides — tissue, hand sanitizer, markers, keys. She scouts materials with prints of Dr. Seuss, Disney and different characters on sale at Walmart and sells them for $13 every.

She makes ends meet with the assistance of her son, Leonardo Hernandez, 24, who additionally works for the district as a buildings and grounds employee. Hernandez has autism, and Martinez is glad that he discovered a job the place he has the help and understanding of his co-workers. However she needs she didn’t need to depend on him.

“I need to have the ability to pay the hire on my own,” she mentioned.

Earlier than transferring into the Huntington Park condominium the place she now lives, Martinez lived along with her brother at a home in South L.A. She had her personal room then, she mentioned. However there was loads of violence locally, and he or she felt she needed to go away to maintain her youngsters secure.

“Now we’re simply caught right here as a result of all the pieces went up and we can not transfer,” she mentioned. “We are able to’t afford $2,000 hire. That’s simply an excessive amount of.”

On Wednesday morning, as Martinez and Hernandez obtained prepared for an additional day of picketing, the considered the earnings they have been shedding to the three-day strike weighed closely on them. Quickly, they must pay hire once more.

“He’s apprehensive. I’m apprehensive,” she mentioned. “Hopefully it’ll pay out.”

A 30% increase would enhance her wage to greater than $41,000 a yr. With that, she figured, she would be capable of transfer.

“If we win, we’ll in all probability be capable of get out of right here,” she mentioned. “Get a spot with three bedrooms at the least.”

Yadira Martinez, in a purple poncho, stands with others in a picket line in front of a school.

Yadira Martinez, 53, second from proper, joins the picket line at Florence Avenue Elementary Faculty on Wednesday.

(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Occasions)

Martinez handed Hernandez a plastic container crammed with eggs and potato to share along with his co-workers and reminded him to take his gloves as he headed to his college website for a day of picketing within the chilly.

She placed on a purple poncho to protect towards the rain, grabbed the meals she had ready and he or she and her daughter obtained in her automobile and drove to Florence Avenue Elementary, the place she greeted her co-workers and started one other day on strike.

Occasions employees author Andrew Khouri contributed to this report.

Latest

California, don’t get too used to the summer solstice sun

The poet James Russell Lowell famously requested,...

LAURA INGRAHAM: Democrats with their big tech and media allies know things are desperate

Laura Ingraham discusses Hunter Biden's plea deal and...

John Eastman should lose his law license, State Bar argues

John Eastman, as soon as the dean...

Scientist sickened at Wuhan lab early in coronavirus pandemic was US-funded

A Chinese language scientist partially funded by U.S....

Newsletter

spot_img

Don't miss

California, don’t get too used to the summer solstice sun

The poet James Russell Lowell famously requested,...

LAURA INGRAHAM: Democrats with their big tech and media allies know things are desperate

Laura Ingraham discusses Hunter Biden's plea deal and...

John Eastman should lose his law license, State Bar argues

John Eastman, as soon as the dean...

Scientist sickened at Wuhan lab early in coronavirus pandemic was US-funded

A Chinese language scientist partially funded by U.S....

Court-appointed doctor says alleged Davis serial stabber not mentally competent

A court-appointed physician has decided that Carlos...
spot_imgspot_img

California, don’t get too used to the summer solstice sun

The poet James Russell Lowell famously requested, “And what's so uncommon as a day in June?” The road alludes to the dear...

LAURA INGRAHAM: Democrats with their big tech and media allies know things are desperate

Laura Ingraham discusses Hunter Biden's plea deal and the way it's an "exit ramp" for President Biden's son on "The Ingraham Angle."LAURA INGRAHAM:...

John Eastman should lose his law license, State Bar argues

John Eastman, as soon as the dean of Chapman College’s legislation college and an advisor to former President Trump, ought to lose...