Jesuit Led L.A. Anti-Gang Program Lays Off Most Employees

Father Gregory Boyle greets one of the many young men who offered support and comfort after he announced that most of Homeboy Industries' employees would be laid off. (Francine Orr, Los Angeles Times / May 13, 2010)

Father Gregory Boyle greets one of the many young men who offered support and comfort after he announced that most of Homeboy Industries' employees would be laid off. (Francine Orr, Los Angeles Times / May 13, 2010)

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The country’s largest anti-gang program, Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles, has laid off most of its employees because of a decline in donations.

Jesuit Father Gregory Boyle, who started Homeboy Industries in the Boyle Heights neighborhood during the height of the city’s gang wars 20 years ago, said 300 people were laid off, including all senior staff and administrators.

The organization will continue to offer tattoo removal and counseling services but the silk-screening factory, landscaping company and other businesses where former rival gang members work side by side will be shut down. The Homegirl Cafe, which employs 100 people near downtown, will stay open.

The acclaimed anti-gang program ran into financial trouble last year when contributions dried up and government contracts were cut. For two decades, Homeboy Industries has offered counseling, removed tattoos and helped gang members find jobs. Its motto: “Nothing stops a bullet like a job.”

But Boyle said no amount of campaigning and fundraising could make up the roughly $5 million the organization needed to operate. He said pleas for donations had resulted in some help, but not nearly enough.

Boyle recently published a memoir about ministering with gang members entitled “Tattoos on the Heart: The Power of Boundless Compassion.” Read more about Homeboy Industries precarious financial situation via The Los Angeles Times.

To donate to help Homeboy Industries, please click here to be taken to their online donation page.You can also watch Boyle speak about the mission of Homeboy Industries in the video below:

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