South Los Angeles community recognized with $20,000 national safety award

Oct 16, 2013, 16:12 ET from Local Initiatives Support Corporation

MetLife Foundation honors alliance to reduce crime and create quality housing in Vernon Central

LOS ANGELES, Oct. 16, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Community development leaders along with the Los Angeles Police Department are being recognized with a national MetLife Foundation Community-Police Partnership Award tomorrow for greatly improving the safety and vitality of South LA's Vernon Central neighborhood.

WHAT: Vernon Central Celebrates National Community Safety Award
WHEN: Thursday, October 17, 11:00am
WHERE: The Dunbar Hotel, 4225 South Central Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90011

As communities around the state wrap up earthquake drills as part of the Great Shake-Out, neighbors in Vernon Central will also celebrate hard won stability and tranquility around the historic Dunbar Hotel and Somerville Residential Communities– once an epicenter of crime and violence in the community that has been rehabilitated by Thomas Safran & Associates (TSA) into quality affordable housing for seniors and families. The Coalition for Responsible Community Development, All Peoples Community Center and the Los Angeles Police Department are being honored with TSA by MetLife Foundation for their extraordinary partnership to improve community safety at an 11:00am ceremony at 4225 South Central Avenue.

The LA partners were selected from more than 540 applicants for a  MetLife Foundation Award, a program  administered by the Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC). The partners' achievements – including renovation of the Dunbar Hotel and the two adjacent Somerville Residential Communities, which contributed to a 30% drop in violent crime in the area from 2011-2013 – caught the attention of the national selection committee comprised of police commanders, community development executives and LISC staff.

"Collaboration between community-based groups and police departments can reduce crime, stimulate housing and business activity, and improve the quality of life in lower-income neighborhoods," said Dennis White, president and CEO of MetLife Foundation. "The Los Angeles partnership is an exemplary model for groups nationwide facing similar challenges and opportunities."

The re-opening of the Dunbar Hotel in June received significant attention from those who recalled its heyday as an icon in Los Angeles African-American history, and Central Avenue's Jazz, R&B and Blues music scene in particular. The MetLife Foundation Award shines a spotlight on a less told part of the story: the collaboration between police officers, community advocates and a private developer that made reclamation of the Dunbar and surrounding blocks from rampant crime and violence possible.  

Working closely with LAPD, TSA physically overhauled the properties, addressing the design problems that contributed to poor security, while working to evict problem residents and support others. With support from CRCD and All Peoples, the project created employment opportunities for neighborhood residents, a space for an after-school program, a playground and community rooms. Residents also enjoy educational workshops and social activities on a regular basis.

The renamed "Dunbar Village" now offers 41 units of affordable housing for families and an additional 40 units of housing for low-income seniors with beautiful landscaping, secure parking and abundant community spaces. Crime drops in the area have outpaced gains in other LA neighborhoods that did not benefit from such a concerted, public-private effort for community renewal.

"We want to thank Metlife and LISC for this generous award for the residents of Dunbar Village.  This funding will be applied towards an after-school program to provide a safe learning environment focused on improving grades with the ultimate goal of graduating high school and going to college," said Jordan Pynes, president of TSA.

"We are so proud that the hard work and creativity of these LA partners are being recognized on the national stage," said LISC executive director Claudia Lima. "This neighborhood has truly undergone a transformation that would not have been possible without the vision, commitment and hard work of all these partners, including the residents who fought to make Dunbar Village a safe place to call home."

About TSA: For over 38 years, Thomas Safran and Associates has developed and managed over 5,500 residential units for seniors and families in Greater Los Angeles.  From the excellent design to extensive landscaping, TSA has specialized in developing quality affordable housing with the goal to enhance the world in which we live and enrich the lives of the people who reside in their buildings.   

About CRCD: Founded in 2005, the Coalition for Responsible Community Development has a unique focus on young people in Vernon-Central (age 16-25), and collaborates with residents, businesses, community-based organizations, civic leaders, and Los Angeles Trade Technical College, to improve quality of life and address the needs of low-income residents.

About MetLife Foundation: MetLife Foundation was created in 1976 to continue MetLife's long tradition of corporate contributions and community involvement.  Today, the Foundation is dedicated to advancing financial inclusion, committing $200 million over the next five years to help build a secure future for individuals and communities around the world. MetLife Foundation is affiliated with MetLife, Inc, a leading global provider of insurance, annuities and employee benefit programs, serving 90 million customers. Through its subsidiaries and affiliates, MetLife holds leading market positions in the United States, Japan, Latin America, Asia, Europe and the Middle East.  .

About LISC: The Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) supports comprehensive, collaborative and community-driven efforts that transform neighborhoods into healthy and sustainable communities of choice and opportunity.  Since 1987, Los Angeles LISC has invested over $646 million resulting in more than 9,000 homes, 1.7 million square feet of commercial or community space, and over $1.7 billion in total investment in LA neighborhoods. LISC's national Community Safety Initiative supports alliances between communities and law enforcement to reduce crime and spur vitality in communities. LISC has administered the MetLife Foundation Community-Police Partnership Awards since 2002. (

Analee Villalpando, TSA, 310-820-4888, 
Mark Wilson, CRCD, 213-743-6193, 
Claudia Lima, LISC, 213-240-3118,

SOURCE Local Initiatives Support Corporation