David left El Salvador during the civil conflict in 1990 and moved to Los Angeles, where he moved from city to city, before financial difficulties brought his family to a homeless shelter. After a social worker informed him that there was a vacancy in the building, David and his family filled out an application and moved in KYCC’s Menlo Family Apartments in 2016. His children have been active in the afterschool academic and youth programs and the family received case management and financial services through our onsite service providers. 

Where is your hometown?

San Salvador, El Salvador. I came to the U.S. in 1990. The war finally reached the capital, and I said, “That’s it.” And I decided to come. I was18. My dad’s sister paid so I could come, and I came alone.

My father’s daughter lived in Highland Park, Los Angeles. I didn’t know her—we had never met, but I stayed with her for a few months. And then I had to go—we really didn’t know each other. Since then, I have lived in many different places—Inglewood, Burbank, Downey, South Central and Sun Valley, muchos lugares. I worked at a dry cleaners in Brentwood and even went to Las Vegas with the owners for seven years.

Do you live or work in Koreatown?

I moved to [the] Menlo [Family Apartments] in Koreatown two years ago. My social worker from Aviva told me there was an opening at the Menlo Family Apartments. I was living in a shelter at the time. I had to go to Section 8 and it was a process to get in here. There was a lot of paperwork to fill out.

What are your thoughts on Koreatown?

When I lived in South Central, I always thought Koreatown was more calm and in the center of things. I thought it was better than South Central. Living here I’ve learned so much about the resources and help from KYCC and it’s benefitted me a lot. I didn’t even know KYCC existed and that they could help.

The corner I live in feels tranquil. Over there—towards Pico Union—is not so calm.

For me, Koreatown has stayed the same since I first came here. Business, traffic, the people. I could’ve moved after a year, but I prefer to stay. 

Where is your favorite place in Koreatown?

I like walking the kids to school. Up Menlo and down 11th Street. There’s a lot of light. A lot of calm. I go every morning, but what I like is the afternoon walk. At around five o’clock, the sun just hits you and I like that.