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One America - Casa Heiwa Tenant Council

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One America

Program: Casa Heiwa Tenant Council, Los Angeles, CA
Contact(s): Tom Sogi, Tenant Services Coordinator, LTSC Community Development Corporation: (213) 473-1692
Purpose: To promote and encourage intercultural understanding, awareness and harmony by planning and implementing activities and programs

Background Program Operations Outcomes


Casa Heiwa, a 100-unit affordable housing project for low-income residents, opened in October 1996. Casa Heiwa, which means House of Harmony, is the first low-income family housing center built in Little Tokyo since World War II. It provides housing for multigenerational and multicultural residents of the diverse population of Los Angeles. There are 16 different ethnic groups represented by the 250 residents of Casa Heiwa. On site at the facility are social services, a playground, computer learning center, basketball court, community garden and subsidized child care center. In order to develop a method of organizing and communicating with the residents, the Casa Heiwa Tenant Council was established. The programs and activities implemented by the tenant council were designed to encourage participation by residents, provide them with a voice and sense of ownership, and give them a means of getting involved.

Program Operations

The council is comprised of 15 tenants who are elected by the residents. They meet every month to discuss issues, plan and implement activities, and decide on programs for residents. Activities include: cherry picking, excursions to museums and basketball tournaments. The facility has an English class conducted by a certified instructor from the Los Angeles School District. There is also a mentoring program for youth and a senior's association that meets monthly to discuss their specific needs and interests. Speakers come from the community to talk to residents about issues such as aging, health and insurance. Casa Heiwa also has a computer learning center to teach computer skills so that residents can improve and enhance their job skills to seek better employment.

Outcomes and Significant Accomplishments

As a result of these activities and programs, approximately 93% of the residents have participated or have become involved in some capacity. Attendance at the tenant council meetings averages 80%. Casa Heiwa achieved 100% occupancy in April 1997. Besides devoting some time to handling tenant grievances, the council has successfully planned and held cultural events bringing together all Casa Heiwa residents, including a Fourth of July barbecue and Thanksgiving dinner.

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