Los Angeles LGBT Center Heads East: Joins Latino Equality Alliance to Open "Mi Centro," an LGBT Services Center in Boyle Heights - Los Angeles LGBT Center

Los Angeles LGBT Center Heads East: Joins Latino Equality Alliance to Open "Mi Centro," an LGBT Services Center in Boyle Heights

September 27, 2015
Contact: Gil Diaz
323-993-7622

New Facility will Increase Access to Bilingual Social Services for LGBT Latinos on the Eastside and in Neighboring Communities

LOS ANGELES, September 28, 2015—To better serve the community of LGBT people who live on the eastside of Los Angeles, the Los Angeles LGBT Center has partnered with the Latino Equality Alliance (LEA) to open its first facility on the eastside of Los Angeles. Mi Centro, just east of the Los Angeles River in Boyle Heights, will offer culturally adapted, community-informed bilingual services operated by the Center and LEA that will eventually include immigration and housing support, legal services, transgender support services, youth and senior programming, family counseling and empowerment programs. It will also be the first headquarters facility for LEA.

Opening in early October, Mi Centro is in a renovated warehouse at 553 S. Clarence St., between the 4th and 6th Street Bridges, just a 15-minute walk from the Mariachi Plaza and Pico/Aliso Gold Line stations and one block from Metro bus lines at 4th and Boyle Streets. It’s housed within City Labs Boyle Heights, a locally owned, purpose-driven collaborative space for innovators, entrepreneurs and creatives. Co-tenants of the facility include Leadership for Urban Renewal (LURN), a non-profit organization committed to revitalizing low-income communities.

“The opening of this Boyle Heights facility realizes a longtime objective of the Los Angeles LGBT Center to expand services beyond our Hollywood sites,” said Center CEO Lorri L. Jean. “We have many clients who travel long distances to obtain services at the Center and we also know there is a growing need for LGBT-specific services throughout eastside neighborhoods. We look forward to working with LEA and other partners to do an even better job of serving our community, addressing homophobia and helping LGBT people—wherever they live—thrive as healthy, equal and complete members of society.”

The Latino Equality Alliance supports the expansion as a way of addressing homophobia in Latino communities and overcoming its negative effects including family separation, and high risk behavior that may lead to HIV/AIDS and even suicide.

At Mi Centro, the Center and LEA will initially offer bilingual legal services and support, particularly for immigrants, transgender support services and groups and activities for seniors. Additional social and health-related services will be added based on demand and interest. The facility will also offer other LGBT organizations space (by reservation) for meetings and/or services. Initially, Mi Centro will be open on weekdays, from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., and in the evenings by request.

“The name Mi Centro is a good example of our joint commitment to make this space welcoming and relevant to our Latino LGBT community,” said LEA Co-Founder and Advisory Board Chair Ari Gutierrez Arambula. “It is with acknowledgment of the long-fought struggles of our Latina and Latino Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community for equal access to social services and health, educational, economic and other opportunities that LEA welcomes the chance to work in alliance with the Center in expanding its service reach geographically and culturally to better serve LGBT people on the eastside.”

Boyle Heights, located just east of the Los Angeles Civic Center along the Los Angeles River, is home to one of the most densely populated neighborhoods in the city of Los Angeles and one that is more than 93 percent Latino.

Mercedes Marquez, a member of both the Center and LEA boards, helped to foster the collaboration between the two organizations and galvanize the joint project.

“This new chapter in the relationship between LEA and the Center is one born of shared values and a deep demonstrated commitment to the struggle of and by LGBT people to be free to be who we are wherever we are,” said Marquez. “Service needs in the Latino LGBT communities of Los Angeles are enormous. The Center and LEA are committed to working together and with other Latino and LGBT service providing organizations to both deepen services and provide an LGBT space in Boyle Heights dedicated to dialogue and the celebration of Latino LGBT life and culture. ¡Adelante!”

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About the Latino Equality Alliance

The Latino Equality Alliance (LEA) was established by grassroots leaders in response to Proposition 8, the California ballot initiative that took away marriage rights from same-sex couples. Its mission is to promote liberty, equality and justice for the Latino LGBTQ community. Priority issues are family acceptance, marriage and immigration parity. Public education programs include on campus anti-bullying workshops for students, parents and administrators. Join us on Twitter: @LEA_CA, Instagram: @SomosLEA and/or FB/LatinoEqualityAlliance

About the Los Angeles LGBT Center

Since 1969 the Los Angeles LGBT Center has cared for, championed, and celebrated LGBT individuals and families in Los Angeles and beyond. Today the Center's nearly 800 employees provide services for more LGBT people than any other organization in the world, offering programs, services, and global advocacy that span four broad categories: Health, Social Services and Housing, Culture and Education, Leadership and Advocacy. We are an unstoppable force in the fight against bigotry and the struggle to build a better world; a world in which LGBT people thrive as healthy, equal, and complete members of society. Learn more at lalgbtcenter.org.

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