play / 2021

Rethink MacArthur Park

Rethink MacArthur Park

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Grants Challenge by Integrated Recovery Network

In order to begin changing the narrative of housing-insecure individuals and lack of neighborhood safety at MacArthur Park, Integrated Recovery Network proposes the Rethink MacArthur Park Initiative which will employ the housing-insecure individuals who reside there and the neighboring area, to provide supplemental maintenance to the park while providing supplemental income and job history to some of the city's most vulnerable Angelinos.


In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

  • Central LA

What is the problem that you are seeking to address?

MacArthur Park became known for violence after 1985 when prostitution, drug dealing, shootings, and the occasional rumored drowning became commonplace. As the park’s reputation deteriorated, so to did the facilities. Over time, MacArthur Park has become a hub for the homeless. To many Angelinos, homeless people are scary and tent encampments a threat. It is this seemingly city-wide sentiment that pushes city officials to invest in enforcement-based approaches when addressing homelessness. According to the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA): “Fines and citations, encampment clearings and other municipal practices and policies that disrupt and displace people create additional barriers and setbacks for people experiencing homelessness, making it more likely that people will remain homeless even longer.” With the recent crackdown in Echo Park, it is clear that we as a city need to take a more compassionate initiative with our housing insecure Angelinos and with our parks.

Describe the project, program, or initiative that this grant will support to address the problem identified.

In order to begin changing the perspective of MacArthur Park, Integrated Recovery Network proposes the Rethink MacArthur Park Initiative which will employ the housing insecure individuals who reside there and the neighboring area to provide supplemental maintenance to the park while providing supplemental income and job history to some of the city’s most vulnerable Angelinos. The supplemental maintenance services will include: supplemental trash removal, litter abatement, graffiti removal, and pressure washing services. “A disorderly space with garbage gives the impression that people are not taking care of that place,” explains John Morton, World Bank environmental expert. “Therefore, if a neighborhood tolerates disorder, whether that means throwing trash on the ground or dirty streets, it could – hypothetically – produce an environment more conducive to crime… It is a symptom and also part of the cause.” In 2015 at Central Villa, Jamaica; a neighborhood with high crime and unemployment rates; the Jamaica Social Investment Fund cleaned streets to recover public spaces. Not only was the area cleaner but the project also helped mobilize the community, which led residents to propose new initiatives, such as the promotion of recycling, skills-development, and family support programs; which address a variety of risk factors that contribute to crime, violence and homelessness. Cleaning up won’t fix all of the problems, but it can be the start.

In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?

Pilot or new project, program, or initiative

Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?

100
Direct impact
100,000
Indirect impact

Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.

It is the vision of the Integrated Recovery Network that the Rethink MacArthur Park Initiative can be one of the catalysts which will spark a new generation of Angelinos primed for change. If one of the most densely populated areas in the nation, once considered a cautionary tale for Los Angeles, can become a beacon of change and return to its former glory, then we can prove to our elected officials and Los Angeles residents, that community based approaches and social enterprise can and do produce results; that the residents of MacArthur Park care for the park and that Los Angeles cares for the people who reside there.

What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?

The Rethink MacArthur Park Initiative is a proposed pilot program that will use surveys and visual data to track and measure it’s success. Firstly, Integrated Recovery Network will regularly photograph the area of MacArthur Park every 2 weeks for the duration of the program term as part of its’ community outreach efforts. As the Park Maintenance team cleans up the park and the community grows accustomed to their presence, we expect that the community will reciprocate our efforts and this will be visible to all. Additionally, every 3 months Integrated Recovery Network will conduct street outreach in order to conduct surveys on the local community. This survey will measure - among other things - Park Safety, Park Cleanliness and Community Perception.

Which of the play metrics will you impact?​

  • Access to open space and park facilities
  • Easy access to a safe park
  • Perceived neighborhood safety

Indicate any additional LA2050 goals your project will impact.

  • LA is the healthiest place to LIVE