The following post was written by intern Maggie Su as part of a series of profiles of API members of the community.
Yasue Clark, a community organizer at Little Tokyo Service Center (LTSC), works with low-income seniors who live in affordable housing units in Little Tokyo. She has worked at LTSC for the past seven years, advocating for seniors who are ill-equipped to raise their own voice.
About 800 seniors live in Little Tokyo, according to Clark. Most are monolingual, speaking either Japanese or Korean.
“Because they’re monolingual and also [because] they’re low-income, their voice hardly ever gets heard,” Clark said. “Most of them are invisible.”
Clark, a Tokyo native, does not speak Korean, so she primarily works with the Japanese-speaking seniors. Nevertheless, she does her best to organize activities for the seniors, planning crafts, workshops and field trips. She hopes to take them to the Downtown Women’s Center soon in an attempt to address misconceptions they may have about the homeless.
Compared to Tokyo, Los Angeles is much less pedestrian oriented; far fewer people walk on LA streets. Clark believes insufficient public transportation is a major contributing factor to LA’s excess of cars, which, in turn, makes the city less hospitable to pedestrians.
“Most of the time it feels like cars have the right of way, not pedestrians,” Clark said.
Furthermore, many sidewalks are poorly maintained, with exposed tree roots that pose a tripping hazard and nonfunctional street lights that make residents feel unsafe after dark.
Little Tokyo, though, is a more pedestrian-friendly neighborhood than most in LA. Both a grocery store and a medical center with doctors’ offices, a pharmacy and a blood testing lab are within walking distance for senior residents.