Sam Lopez is the environmental director for Urban Corps, a nonprofit agency that gives young adults jobs such as weed abatement and graffiti and trash removal throughout local communities while helping them earn high school diplomas. This week, Lopez went to his newest client — the communities that make up Greater Golden Hill — for introductions. On Monday it was the Maintenance Assessment District (MAD) Oversight Committee and on Thursday, the Community Development Corporation (CDC).
At Monday’s MAD meeting, Lopez stood in front of the committee and before he could get the “ez” in his last name out, outspoken MAD committee member Bill Hilsdorf voiced his concerns for the corps: “The Urban Corps is made up of troublemakers, right? Well, I’ve seen them in the neighborhood, and they don’t seem to have much of a work ethic. How much are you charging our community anyways?”
The answer was $262,000 of the Maintenance Assessment District’s $488,000 annual budget.
Lopez was caught off guard. Before he had adequate time to respond on all of the services Urban Corps had performed in the ten days since starting work in the community, MAD committee chair David Skillman asked if Lopez could return for the next meeting. Lopez agreed.
Luckily for Lopez, Thursday’s CDC meeting was a much different shade of spray-paint. Before the introductions, Rosemary Downing, executive director for the CDC, gave a presentation on Urban Corps accomplishments during the first ten days of work. In that time, 158 bags of trash had been collected, 133 square feet of graffiti has been removed, 14 large furniture items hauled away from alleyways, and 13 blocks' worth of weeds have been eliminated.
“This deserves a round of applause,” said Downing.
CDC board member Katherine Willets said she saw a group of workers from Urban Corps sitting down around noon one day as she was driving through the community. When she returned a short while later, all of them were hard at work.
Lopez and the Urban Corps team will have another go with the Greater Golden Hill MAD at their meeting on the third Monday of September at 6:30 p.m. in the Balboa Park clubhouse.
For more on Urban Corps, go to urbancorpssd.org.