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South LA Finally Getting Advantageous Promise Zone Status

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Sections of Expo Park, Crenshaw, and Florence included in the designation

Back in 2014, Los Angeles received Promise Zone designation for a chunk of the central city area that included Pico-Union, Westlake, Koreatown, Hollywood, and East Hollywood. The status, given by the federal government and aimed at closing the income gap growing between residents, gave the neighborhoods a leg up when applying to federal grants.

Though poverty is a citywide problem, and the designation was definitely welcomed, many wondered how this status aimed at helping lift the poorest parts of the city out of poverty could have skipped over South LA, where some of the city's most disadvantaged live and which has very high poverty rates.

There were a handful of theories about why South LA didn't get roped into the Promise Zone. Mayor Eric Garcetti had said the area was skipped due to an application requirement for the status, but also said he was "darn determined" to get South LA in on the action.

A little more than two years later, we're seeing results. The LA Times reports that federal and city officials are expected to announce today that Los Angeles is getting a second Promise Zone, one that would cover segments of the neighborhoods of Crenshaw, Leimert Park, Exposition Park, University Park, Historic South-Central, Florence, Central-Alameda, and Downtown. Or, in transit terms, the new zone "straddle[s] major transit lines of the Exposition, Blue, and Crenshaw/LAX lines as well as the proposed Vermont bus rapid transit line."

'One of the goals is how does the community realize opportunities of the transportation investments without having mass displacement," says Councilman Marqueece Harris-Dawson, who represents parts of South L.A.

The designation will specifically help "[push] neighborhoods to the top of the list" when they apply to federal grants relating to education, job training, and economic development, says the LAT.