Centro CHA, city’s largest Latino-serving nonprofit, may finally get permanent location

Since the early 90s, Centro CHA, has provided services ranging from job training, immigration services and case management to the city’s largest demographic: Latinos.

While the nonprofit agency worked to provide stability to low-income and underrepresented clients it found itself constantly uprooted—having moved five times throughout the years.

Now, Centro CHA is in a position to secure a permanent location with the help of the city.

On Tuesday, Aug. 4, the City Council is scheduled to vote on an agenda item that would allow the city to become the co-applicant of a $3 million U.S. Economic Development Administration grant that would go toward the creation of the Centro CHA Workforce Development Center at 1850 Atlantic Ave. in Central Long Beach.

The agency is currently renting a building located at 1633 Long Beach Blvd.

The city-owned property, which needs extensive renovations that total about $3.6 million, would also be available to purchase by the nonprofit after a 10-year lease agreement with the city. The nonprofit has secured a $1.1 million loan from the Los Angeles County Development Authority, which will allow the purchase of the property and initial capital to improve the site.

If the City Council approves becoming a co-applicant with Centro CHA, the heavy lifting in fulfilling grant requirements would be left to the nonprofit, allowing the city to avoid any costs and administration and reporting duties if the nonprofit becomes noncompliant.

While the agenda item is focused only on the EDA grant, Centro CHA Executive Director Jessica Quintana is making an additional request to help the Latino community during the coronavirus pandemic.

In a letter sent to the mayor, council and city manager earlier this week, Quintana and members of the Long Beach Latino community, listed three immediate and urgent needs:

  1. $1 million in funding from the CARES Act so Centro CHA can provide rapid emergency resources related to COVID-19 education, screening and testing.
  2. Use CARES Act funding to help secure a permanent location for Centro CHA’s workforce community center to help with workforce training for low-to-moderate income residents in the hospitality, healthcare and retail industries as well a Latino small business entrepreneurs.
  3. Activate the Jenny Oropeza Community Center and Cesar Chavez Park in partnership with labor unions and other nonprofits to provide workforce development training and assist in fulfilling food insecurities and health and wellness services.

“We urge City Councilmembers to use an equity lens and prioritize CARES Act funding for communities with the highest rates of COVID-19 and address the underlying and social and economic conditions that the virus has exposed,” the letter stated. “Our City policymakers must take action towards an equitable direction for all impacted communities with an emphasis on those that are most affected and vulnerable.”

The letter has the support of Rep. Alan Lowenthal, state Sen. Lena Gonzalez and Long Beach Unified School District Board member Juan Benitez, among over a dozen others.

The city announced earlier this month that it will receive $40.2 million in Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) funding to support the city’s pandemic response efforts.

California’s Latino population has seen the highest infection rates, making up 55% of cases while accounting for just under 40% of the state’s population.

In Long Beach, the Latino infection rate is roughly the same as the population at about 40%.

The City Council will meet via teleconference at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, Aug. 4. To see the live video click here. 

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Stephanie Rivera is the immigration and diversity reporter for the Long Beach Post. After graduating from CSULB with a degree in journalism, Stephanie worked for Patch Latino and City News Service before coming to the Long Beach Post in 2015.
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