Monday, January 27, 2014

A Success, Now Struggling

(Cartoon by Jeff Stahler and published 1/13/14 at Go Comics.)

I've been following the project begun and run by Father Gregory Boyle here in Los Angeles for at least 15 years.  Homeboy Industries is one of the most successful projects of its kind in the world.  Once again, unfortunately, the project is having serious financial difficulties.

From yesterday's Los Angeles Times:

For a quarter of a century, Boyle has steered boys and girls, and men and women, out of the gang life through Homeboy Industries, which offers job training, counseling, tattoo removal and more. The model Boyle built has been replicated around the country and abroad.

Here in Los Angeles, some120,000 gang members have voluntarily asked Father Boyle for help starting over. They struggle daily against the socioeconomic forces that drew them into gang life. But Homeboy itself confronts another daily struggle.

 Making ends meet.

 Our government funding has gone in the last three years from 20% of our annual $14-million budget to 3%,” Boyle told the police commissioners. [Emphasis added]

Right now, the project is short by about $1 million, which means Fr. Boyle will have to lay off staff and cut back on some of the services so necessary to these young women and men who are attempting to make a new start at life, one outside the gangs and away from criminal activity.  Social workers, tattoo removal experts, drug counselors -- all an integral part of the rehabilitation of these kids, our kids -- will soon find themselves out of work if the money doesn't come from somewhere. 

Given the current Congress, it's clear that it won't be coming from the feds. Further, Gov. Brown has suddenly turned into a frugal spender.  After dragging the state out of the red on the backs of the poor, he now wants to put the current budget surplus into a "rainy day fund." 

You'd think a city with so many millionaires that bailing out the Museum of Modern Art of it's much larger deficit only took one dinner party that a project such as this would have no problems.  Well, unless this article stimulates some action from those who can easily throw another dinner party, Homeboy Industries will sink. I hope someone follows though.

Note:  If you have some spare cash this month, please consider a donation to the project by going here

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