(This post is part of Sweet Charity: Blogging.LA’s Guide to Giving, our guide to alternative places to spend your dollars and make a difference this holiday season!)
Esperanza Community Housing serves the families that live in and around the Figueroa corridor. The organization’s original focus was on housing, and they’ve built and maintained sustainable and affordable housing for folks with low incomes. But they’ve expanded their mandate to include all kinds of things that go beyond just housing and show a real dedication to developing a self-sustaining, vital community. They provide health-related education and services in English and Spanish, they run arts and science workshops for kids and families. They have an extensive education program, and train community leaders to become “health promoters,” giving them the knowledge and resources to work for health and social justice issues on a grassroots level.
Esperanza Community Housing also operates Mercado La Paloma, an amazing marketplace and community space located at 3655 South Grand Avenue. The Mercado is full of small, independently owned, community-based businesses, all of which were founded with the assistance of Esperanza Community Housing, who provided business training and startup resources, with the intent of creating jobs and business ownership opportunities in the community. The shops in the Mercado include small restaurants and shops, selling everything from arts and crafts to computer supplies. I found out about it when I met some friends for dinner at Mo-Chica, which is an amazing Peruvian restaurant located in the Mercado. (You should go, and try the AMAZING ceviche!!) Mercado La Paloma also houses art exhibits, hosts classes on topics ranging from health and nutrition to computer how-to, has a kids’ reading nook, and plays host to events like film screenings and festivals. All in all, it’s an amazing, welcoming gathering space that provides much-needed community resources.
Want to help Esperanza Community Housing continue to provide affordable housing and resources? They welcome tax-dedutible donations on their website. And you can also support the small businesses in the Mercado by doing some of your Christmas shopping there! A good time to visit might be tomorrow, December 17th, between 5:00 and 9:00pm, when the Mercado will be hosting a holiday celebration, with live music, dancing, and art workshops.
Esperanza Community Housing and Mercado La Paloma are located at 3655 South Grand Ave. Directions are available here.
Photo of the Mercado La Paloma mural from lili.chen on flickr.