Transformative Climate Communities: Watts Rising

In January 2018, the Strategic Growth Council awarded $33.5 million to the Watts Rising Collaborative, led by the Housing Authority of the City of Los Angeles (HACLA) as part of the Transformative Climate Communities Program.

Located in the southeastern portion of the City of Los Angeles, Watts is surrounded by numerous sources of intense air pollution and faces serious health disparities and limited transportation options for its residents. Watt’s Transformative Climate Communities (TCC) grant seeks to address these challenges through a suite of coordinated projects, including low-carbon transportation options, affordable housing, thousands of street trees, and other amenities that respond to the unique needs of the community. John King of HACLA explained that, “This investment will help improve the quality of life for the residents of Watts for years to come. From electric buses and solar paneling, to bike paths and clean, efficient, new affordable housing, it’s just a blessing to build upon and be a part of transforming Watts.”

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The “Watts Rising” plan for neighborhood transformation through the TCC program builds upon a decade of community leadership and planning, including more than 200 community engagement activities and outreach to over 5,000 individuals. After learning about the TCC program, HACLA hosted six public workshops that were attended by over 400 community members, including Watts residents, local government and elected officials, medical providers, educators, environmental and business leaders, community group representatives, and religious leaders.

During the workshops, these diverse stakeholders set goals and selected strategies to reduce GHG emissions, improve public health, and provide economic benefits to the community. Participants then voted to select priority projects and worked collaboratively to define the details of the Watts Rising plan. The Housing Authority presented the final proposed plan at numerous stakeholder meetings and at four public housing sites to gather additional input before submitting its winning application.

When TCC awards were announced at the January 2018 Strategic Growth Council Meeting, a group of Watts residents traveled to Sacramento to express their excitement, appreciation, and determination to improve their community. One resident passionately told the Council, “The Transformative Climate Communities program will allow Watts to finally move away from survival mode to becoming an integrative, sustainable community.”