Central Los Angeles : Housing Project Newspaper Is in Peril

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Roxana Cornejo, 17, has no doubts about the benefits of her future career. “A journalist speaks for the people,” proclaims the reporter-in-training.

This summer, Cornejo, a Centennial High School junior, has spoken for her friends and neighbors at the Imperial Courts housing project in South-Central Los Angeles by writing for the Resident’s Voice, a newspaper with a circulation of 12,000 in the city’s 21 housing projects.

The federally funded quarterly features stories written and edited by residents, and is the only such paper in the country. Its staff includes children and teen-agers such as Cornejo and stories are written in English, Spanish, Vietnamese and Cambodian.


Sadly, it may soon be history.

There is enough money to make it through the year, but editor Hugo Garcia said looming cuts to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development could end projects like the Voice. “It doesn’t look good,” he said.

For Cornejo and other students, it would mean the end of an eye-opening experience.

“A journalist can change the world if she wants to,” Cornejo said. But getting Washington to cough up more dollars may be too big a job even for a teen-age reporter ready to take on the world.