Homeboy Industries lays off 300 people

Former gang member who uses the nickname 'Jose Aleman,' 34, wears a Homeboy Industries T-shirt, while posing for a photo on a street in East Los Angeles, California, March 23, 2005.
Former gang member who uses the nickname 'Jose Aleman,' 34, wears a Homeboy Industries T-shirt, while posing for a photo on a street in East Los Angeles, California, March 23, 2005. Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images

Homeboy Industries – East L.A.’s long-standing anti-gang program – took a big punch yesterday. It announced it’s laid off its paid staff of 300 people. Homeboy’s aim is to teach job skills to gang members so they could get out gangs. Now Homeboy’s in a fight to stay open.

Father Greg Boyle, the Catholic priest who’s buried dozens of East L.A. gang bangers, founded Homeboy Industries more than 20 years ago. It’s always operated on the edge – on the edge of gang turf – on the edge of financial ruin.

Homeboy, which runs a bakery and cafe near downtown L.A., has been struggling with even bigger money problems for months. They’ve gotten so severe that it’s had to lay off all the paid staff.

Father Boyle on Homeboy Industries laying off paid staff from 89.3 KPCC on Vimeo.

But a letter from Homeboy Industries says when the doors open in the morning, about 100 staffers will be there; they just won’t get paid. The classes, the events, tattoo removal and other programs – everything continues as usual.

A report in the “L.A. Times” put Homeboy’s annual budget at just shy of $10 million. The bakery and cafe bring in about a quarter of that. The rest comes from donations. The challenge ahead for Homeboy Industries’ board of directors is to find a way to raise more money.

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