The Leadership Academy empowers City Heights residents

Graduates from the 2011 Leadership Academy

Proyecto de Casas Saludables (PCS) is an organization here in City Heights whose mission is to strengthen the community by providing education, counseling, and representation to residents in the areas of housing and community affairs. The name of the organization means Healthy Homes Project.

One of the key programs offered by PCS is the Leadership Academy, which provides a series of workshops on topics such as immigrant rights, employee rights, tenant and healthy housing rights, and educational rights and access to education. Participants learn how the government system works and how to organize to advocate for their rights.

By making residents aware of their rights, PCS is empowering them to protect themselves  against abuses, such as a lack of repairs to housing they rent, exploitation at their jobs, injustices by the police, and many other circumstances.

The Leadership Academy also offers participants the opportunity to meet local elected representatives, such as our City Councilman Todd Gloria, who made a presentation at a recent workshop on how the government system works and how we can organize.

The program opens up avenues of civic engagement for residents who are an essential part of the community where we live and who deserve to exercise their voice, as well as understand that decisions must come from genuine collaboration from all who make up this community. Through the Academy, residents come to understand it’s important to be involved in making changes to benefit those who live here.

Over the years, the Academy has touched the lives of hundreds of residents. This year 120 people participated in the program, and 95 graduated. A celebration was held with all the graduates July 1 at Edison Elementary School, where the Academy took place. We want to thank a few special guests who attended the graduation: Councilman members Gloria and Marti Emerald, San Diego Community College District board member Peter Zschiesche, Rosario Iannacone, and the principals of Central Elementary School, Mary Fay Elementary, and of course, Edison Elementary where we used the facilities for the workshops.

We are conscious that PCS’ commitment and teamwork in the community with the residents who wish to participate in an active and proactive manner is vital because it’s the place where we want to live for generations.

At PCS we will continue to work arduously to continue with the Leadership Academy so that residents can achieve meaningful participation in issues that improve the community. Because of the tools of knowledge given throughout the workshops at the Academy and the enthusiasm and commitment of the presenters, we know that we are slowly building healthy communities led by residents.

PCS would like to thank our sponsor, The California Endowment which has committed to supporting City Heights for the next ten years through its Building Healthy Communities initiative.

Virginia Angeles is a City Heights resident and director of Proyecto de Casas Saludables.