Oral Histories

Interview of Paul Zimmerman

Executive director of the Southern California Association of Non-Profit Housing and the West Hollywood Community Housing Corporation.
Mitigating Poverty in the City of Angels: Interviews with Affordable Housing and Social Welfare Activists
Social Movements
Community Activism
Biographical Note:
Executive director of the Southern California Association of Non-Profit Housing and the West Hollywood Community Housing Corporation.
Collings, Jane
Zimmerman, Paul
Place Conducted:
Zimmerman's office at the Southern California Association of Non-Profit Housing in Los Angeles, California.
Supporting Documents:
Records relating to the interview are located in the office of the UCLA Library’s Center for Oral History Research.
Interviewer Background and Preparation:
The interview was conducted by Jane Collings, interviewer and senior editor, Center for Oral History Research. B.A., Communications, Antioch College; M.A., Communications, University of Iowa; Ph.D., Critical Studies, UCLA.
Processing of Interview:
The interviewer prepared a timed log of the audio recording of the interview. Zimmerman was given the opportunity to review the log in order to supply missing or misspelled names and to verify the accuracy of the contents. Zimmerman made a few additions, which were entered into the text without further editing or review on the part of the Center for Oral History Research staff.
4.5 hrs.
Regents of the University of California, UCLA Library.
Series Statement:
The series documents affordable housing activism in the Los Angeles area with particular attention to the work of community development corporations. Additional interviews document the work of social justice activists whose work concerns both the low income housing crisis in the city as well as the ways that income inequality impacts the daily life of the most vulnerable among us.
Early life--Influence of grandfather--Parents meet at School of Social Work--Family invests in real estate in Los Angeles--Grandfather's participation in the Yiddish division of the International Working Men's Order--Fundraising on behalf of the Morgan Frieheit newspaper--Zimmerman's identification with the New Left--Father's career in social work--Father builds and operates a rest home for seniors--Father's career as a family therapist --Zimmerman's enjoyment of science classes in high school--Involvement in the civil rights movement, Vietnam war protests, and the counter-culture--Decides against a career in the sciences to focus on the arts--Begins to work in group processes--Secures work as a commercial designer and painter--Participates in the creation of the California Arts Council--Works with Marvin Adelson--Availability of United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) money to build civic centers, parks, and housing--Lawrence Halprin--Participatory design work in Skid Row and downtown LA--The role of a local community development corporation or other non-profit organization in the participatory design phase of a project--Community Corporation of Santa Monica's project to build in Ocean Park--Begins work with John Goodlad at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)--The Los Angeles Community Design Center, now Abode Communities, made architects accessible to community groups--A development wing for the Los Angeles Community Design Center--Enters the field of nonprofit community development under the tutelage of Gary Squier--Becomes executive director of the West Hollywood Community Housing Corporation--Relationship between the West Hollywood Community Housing Corporation and the LA Community Design Center.
Attends Pacific Palisades High School--Youth for Peace, a high school group--A protest against rules regarding hair length for boys at Pacific Palisades High School--Training in group planning processes for architects--A predominant vision in LA of a low-density suburban cityscape--A new focus on transit-related housing for environmental and economic reasons--Work at West Hollywood Housing Corporation--Origins of city of West Hollywood--Establishment of a West Hollywood Community Development Corporation (CDC) modeled on the Santa Monica CDC--West Hollywood CDC projects--A retreat to think about the mission of the CDC--Develops the concept of "permanent supportive housing"--West Hollywood CDC builds a building in Glendale--Government regulations with regard to building affordable housing--An increasingly polarized political landscape presents challenges for affordable housing development--The Havenhurst site project--Successful site planning at the Laurel Norton project--Good design work at Havenhurst--Aesthetic appeal of the Sierra Bonita project--A shift toward mixed use projects in West Hollywood--A trend in forcing school construction out of residential neighborhoods--The chateaux style of the Laurel Norton project--The Tuscan village aesthetic for the Palm View project.
Financing affordable housing--Impact of transportation plans on land use--Effect of real estate collapse--The Community Reinvestment Act--Issues surrounding private investment in affordable housing--Public revenue for affordable housing--Shifts in affordable housing trends--Impact of Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) law--Social mission component in affordable housing--Impact of the environmental movement on social groups--LA is skewed towards enclaves--Private market real estate development in LA--Development of the Southern California Association of Non-Profit Housing (SCANPH)--Homes Within Reach award--Roles of Community Development Finance Institutions (CDFIs)--Background of the Housing LA initiative--Affordable housing and the 1994 earthquake--Desired direction of future policy making--Challenges for SCANPH.