Wall Street in South Los Angeles may not have any bankers or corporate executives but just like New York, the Westcoast version is full of roaches and rats.
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On May 9 SAJE and representatives from organizations including St. John’s Well Child Center, the Asthma Coalition of LA, and Inner City Law Center met at 1245 E. Adams. Three-year-old Andy, who lives in the house, asked if we were having a birthday party for him.
In reality, it was a more serious event; SAJE had organized a tour of the home so that doctors, LAHD inspectors, and others could see firsthand how the landlord’s refusal to maintain the property has led to conditions that put occupants, especially children, at risk of asthma. Despite his excitement at all the visitors, little Andy knows about asthma all too well. He has been hospitalized several times due to respiratory problems.
“The doctor asked me if Andy was living in a clean house,” recalls his mother Valeria. “You can see that he is not.” Valeria recounts hours spent trying to rid the carpet of dust, and of hearing rats during the night and waking up to find the floor covered in their droppings. “Andy cannot play on the carpet,” says Valeria. “He likes to play with his cars but he has to play on the bed because the floor is too dirty. Even after I clean, the bottoms of the children’s socks turn black with dust.”
Other children living in the house have also had serious respiratory problems. Andy’s younger brother Jason, who is six months old, was hospitalized for six days earlier this year. Four-year-old Leslie, who also lives in the apartment, was once hospitalized three times in a single month due to her asthma. She cannot run or play strenuously.
If Valeria and Briseda, Leslie’s mother, were wary of having over fifty people traipse through their home they did not show it. “We are doing this for our children,” Valeria said. “I don’t want to have to look at my son through a tangle of machines in the hospital.”
“I don’t want my daughter to be sick any more,” added Briseda.