Francisco is a longtime resident of Koreatown. He works at El Centro Del Pueblo in Echo Park as a behavioral health educator. He has been a free tax prep and community beautification volunteer with KYCC, and recently came to us for help for housing assistance after receiving hateful and homophobic threats from his landlord.
Where is your hometown?
Puebla, Mexico. I came to L.A. 20 years ago. I lived off Pico Boulevard in West L.A. for around 20 years, and then I moved to the east side of Koreatown.
Do you live or work in Koreatown?
I used to volunteer cleaning streets and sometimes painting the walls [with KYCC’s Environmental Services] in Koreatown. Currently, I work with El Centro Del Pueblo, a nonprofit in Echo Park. I work with behavioral health educators serving different communities — the homeless, elderly, LGBTQ and youth at different high schools—reducing risk behaviors for HIV and STDs.
The first time I got to know KYCC was through the tax program, VITA, six or seven years ago. I had no idea about the specifics, but I went to get help with my taxes and I’ve gone every year since. The program brought a lot of refunds back to help my family in Mexico.
KYCC gave me counseling and helped me find housing. My first landlord was homophobic — he told me he wouldn’t accept my rent anymore, threw a rock at my window and called me and my partner bad words. Believe me—when you look at someone with so much hate in their face, it’s a look you’ll never forget. This situation is going to affect me for the rest of my life. We looked in different areas for other apartments but we had problems because we have two small dogs. Thanks to counseling from KYCC’s program, we were able to move within 30 days to move and I’ve been in my new house since July 30.
What are your thoughts on Koreatown?
Koreatown is excellent. I’ve always liked this area because the people are educated and they are good neighbors — they always say hi. It’s different because, in other places I’ve lived, people don’t say ‘hi’ or ‘good morning’ to each other.
The neighbors are also very diverse — African American, Korean, Japanese, Chinese — a woman in the elevator told me she was Japanese, Hispanic and American! This area is close to my work and a quiet area to walk my dogs. The most important thing is that Koreatown is safe.
Where is your favorite place in Koreatown?
I love the Koreatown Galleria on Olympic. There’s no specific store, I just like walking around. I also love that there is an It’s Boba Time very close to me, on Western and 8th. My favorite is mango tea with boba.