By Besha Rodell
By Patrick Range McDonald
By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
L.A. WEEKLY:Why did you begin working on urban-housing issues?SHERRI FRANKLIN:I discovered we just needed people working day in and day out in our community to help structure deals, and build capacity, and lend their commitment to the community. And we could make anything happen . . . We got money out of the state, we got money out of the city — the first money out of the city’s housing fund that Mayor Bradley had finally set up. And you did this working for what company?
I had gotten my real estate license, so I just operated under my real estate license. I think that was in 1990. We formed Franklin, Jones, Harteman and Jones. And then I worked with Concerned Citizens and a few others . . .So Concerned Citizens of South Central was your client.
Right.Were you doing this pro bono?
I did. In the beginning.So they still called you staff?
I was director of development. They had negative five hundred in the bank when I started with them. And it was just me and Juanita Tate. I found an office, got us going . . . so we got a grant from LISC . . .What does LISC stand for?
Local Initiative Support Corporation. And that’s how I really got started. I had volunteered with Concerned Citizens on other things. I worked with them on the incinerators project — where they fought at helping the community organize [to oppose an incineration plant]. I still work with them. We’ve developed over $20 million in development together. And we have another 20 million that I’ve raised money for that are under construction, or development. We’ve done Central Avenue Village Square, which was a $7 million deal.What is Central Avenue Village Square?
It’s 45 units of affordable housing on 53rd and Central. We did 18 units of affordable housing at commercial space at 47th and Central. And we built Emancipated Youth Development for children who were in foster care, right across from Jefferson High School.You built the headquarters for it?
No, we built 30 units of housing for youth that were . . .30 units for the foster youth?
Right. It’s like a dorm . . .And they can stay there until they’re 18?
No, they could stay there as long as they’re in school. Up to [age] 25. And we’re building 77 new homes in South Los Angeles.Are they single-family homes?
Single-family homes. It’s four acres. I got 2 million from LAHD [Los Angeles Housing Department]. And we got money from [private donors] and a whole bunch of other people. The homes we’re building are going to be, they’re small lots, they’re not your typical lot there. We got a lot-size reduction.And what is your role with the nonprofit Barrio Action?
They brought me on because they needed money to build. So I write the grants. I hire the architect and, and do the bidding process of hiring the contractor. And I train their staff on community development and financing. I have a group of young people there that I work with to help them understand the community organizing. I teach them the entitlement process. I teach them, uh, about anything regarding program development so they can meet the needs of their grant application . . . I know how to move the process. I know how to expedite things.This raises an interesting question: Are the city’s policies toward business so restrictive that nothing ever gets done in this city in terms of housing?
I would say that what we actually have is a lack of communication right now. The city actually wants to help move things. I love the new case-management division. Most people don’t know how to do that. Most people don’t know how to expedite, or what is the process, how do all the dots connect.But is the process harder or more extensive than it needs to be?
I think that the process has been made more extensive by, by people who are lobbyists. And I think that the process has been made more extensive because of a lack of staff.Chief Parks said the policies of the city were chasing developers out of Los Angeles, because of the restrictions of rent control.
Right. And that would be untrue. Because first of all, L.A. is a very economically diverse community. We really are driven by our market right now. The market is dictating what our rents are going to be.Why are you running against Bernard Parks, given that he’s going to be so difficult to beat?
I knew that he was going to do this, but he wasn’t in the race in February, when I filed. On my 37th birthday. I’m running because I think we have a very big gap between the level of resident expertise, true expertise, among our representatives at the city, state and federal level to represent South Los Angeles. It directly impacts my community . . .Expertise in what?
Housing and urban development, or planning or in land use or in social-service delivery. I’ve raised millions of dollars to help nonprofits provide programs — for teenage pregnancy, gang intervention, for helping people recover after being incarcerated. I can name for you program after program after program — good intentions — and because you don’t have people who have practical analysis [skills], it’s like, ‘Oh, that didn’t work. Oh, this isn’t working. We’re cutting the money." Enough is enough.