Leslie Zepeda Memorial Neighborhood Improvement Program

Last week, participants in the City of Hawthorne’s ‘Leslie Zepeda Memorial Neighborhood Improvement Program’ and community residents expressed their appreciation to Mayor Larry Guidi and the Hawthorne City Council for the second phase of the improvement program. A large sign of thanks is erected in resident Adolfo Banos’s backyard facing 120th Street at Cedar Avenue in Hawthorne.
Program area residents thank Mayor Guidi
The program is currently finishing its second phase. Almost thirty five homes have been renovated to date in this phase with five more homes under construction. When Phase 2 is complete, the program will have helped a total of 58 homeowners in the City of Hawthorne with such repairs as painting, landscaping, new roofs, and windows.
As one resident said, you can see a new sparkle to the neighborhood. Program recipient, Diana Jaunzemis, can feel the difference when “neighbors stop by to say how beautiful her house is.” Mayor Guidi’s vision to beautify Hawthorne through the Leslie Zepeda Neighborhood Improvement Program is turning his vision into a reality.

Access Community Housing, as the supervising agency for the City of Hawthorne, is pleased to announce the current success of Phase II in the Leslie Zepeda Neighborhood Improvement Program.

The City of Hawthorne’s united vision, which was conceived by Mayor Larry Guidi and Councilman Louis Velez to revamp and advance the look of its community, has certainly taken hold. As many as seventeen low income families in the Phase II rehabilitation region have signed up for the program since our press release ran in the Hawthorne Press Tribune eight weeks ago.

In addition, Access Community Housing has partnered up with the City of Hawthorne’s Code Enforcement Department to address current code violations in the area. Funds are utilized to assist qualified residents to correct violations. Inhabited garages are being converted back to their intended use. Illegally constructed carports and home additions cited by Code Enforcement are in all cases being brought up to current building code.

This city sponsored program allows the neighborhood’s low income families to receive well appreciated assistance in beautifying their homes resulting in a safer environment. With the City of Hawthorne and Access Community Housing’s joint efforts, we will continue to make a positive improvement in the Hawthorne community



On December 26, 2002, 11 year-old Leslie Zepeda was struck in the chest by a stray bullet, just north of 118th Street on Gale Avenue. She died a couple of hundred yards south of the home where she lived with her family, clutching the doll she had just received for Christmas. Leslie was the innocent victim of gang violence in a neighborhood in transition.
First Neighborhood Meeting

In turning a tragedy into a vision of hope, Hawthorne's Mayor Larry Guidi is launching the Leslie Zepeda Memorial Neighborhood Improvement Program. Mayor Guidi said, "This Program will be a legacy to Leslie, to her family, and to the City that took her murder to heart. Where there were tears in the past, there will be joy in the future. Her death was a rallying point for the community to come together and improve the neighborhood."

The program will focus on Gale Avenue and Eucalyptus Avenue, between Imperial Highway and 120th Street. It is a collaborative effort to return the area to a safe and secure neighborhood for families. The partners in this program will be the homeowners, rental property owners, tenants, neighborhood organizations and institutions, nonprofit agencies, Police, and City government. The Program will incorporate construction of new housing, rehabilitation of existing housing units, both owner-occupied and renter-occupied, and reconstruction of the streets. It is intended to focus on a wide range of needs within the neighborhood and to be a model for other areas of the City.

On Tuesday, January 27, 2004, the Hawthorne Mayor and City Council took major steps to initiate the program. The City authorized entering into an Agreement with Access Community Housing Inc., a nonprofit housing agency. Access Community Housing will act as a Community Housing Development Organization for the City of Hawthorne. The City committed $1,200,000.00 of Federal HOME funds to Access Community Housing to assist in the construction of owner-occupied housing units and/or the acquisition and rehabilitation of multifamily buildings. Access Community Housing, is the managing partner of Century Family Housing, LLC., a joint venture with Century Housing Corporation. Century Family Housing recently built 11 single family pre-manufactured homes in the Eucalyptus neighborhood. The new housing are being sold to first time home buyers.

The City also approved a Contract Agreement with the US Department of Housing and Urban Development for a $4,300,000.00 Section 108 Loan Guarantee. The funds will be used for street reconstruction within the Eucalyptus and Moneta Gardens neighborhoods. The Loan Guarantee will be repaid with future Federal Community Development Block Grant funds.