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LA City Councilman Joe Buscaino on Jordan Downs: 'Watts deserves better'




Jordan Downs Housing Project in Watts.
Jordan Downs Housing Project in Watts.
Frank Stoltze/KPCC

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It's been 50 years since violence and unrest in the South Los Angeles community of Watts led to the deaths of 34 people.

Much has changed in the neighborhood since then. A local swimming pool was recently redone, celebrity chef Roy Choi plans to open a new restaurant there, and renowned architect Frank Gehry has signed on to design a campus for the Children's Institute.

But, according to L.A. City Councilman Joe Buscaino, there is one place in Watts which has been sorely overlooked: the Jordan Downs public housing complex.

The housing development has shed its reputation as a hotbed for crime and gang violence, but the buildings themselves have fallen into disrepair.

In 2011, the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles selected a developer for the renovation, and a plan was drawn up, but work has yet to begin.

In a recent L.A. Times op-ed, Buscaino asks, "Why the delay on redeveloping Jordan Downs?"

"Once again, Watts has been overlooked at a time when this federal grant from the Department of Housing and Urban Development should have been gift-wrapped with a big red bow as we reflect on 50 years." - L.A. City Councilman Joe Buscaino 

Buscaino further explained to host Alex Cohen that a "botched application" prevented Jordan Downs from being renovated. 

"I was just completely, completely devastated the fact that we've lost out three times in the last three years on both federal and state grant dollars," he said.

Take Two did reach out to the Housing Authority for comment on Buscaino's claims of a "botched application," but a response had not been received by Monday afternoon.

Buscaino said he was slated to meet with the Housing Authority on Monday, at which time he would "demand a game plan with strict timelines."

"It's a new day there," he said. "...And yet, we have not broken ground, and Watts deserves better." 

To hear the full interview with Joe Buscaino, click the blue audio player above.