TIME Courts

Family Sues After Student Dies During Fraternity Hike

Joshua Castaneda, Martha Castaneda, Maria Castaneda
Damian Dovarganes—AP Family members of late Armando Villa. Left to right: Joshua Castaneda, his mother Martha Castaneda, and aunt, Maria Castaneda react as California State University, Northridge, CSUN president Dr. Dianne Harrison, not seen, reads a statement regarding Pi Kappa Phi Fraternity activities that lead to the death of CSUN student Armando Villa, during a news conference at the CSUN campus in Northridge, Calif., on Sept. 5, 2014.

Armando Villa's family filed a lawsuit against California State University

(LOS ANGELES) — The family of a California college student who died during a grueling fraternity hike sued the organization and the school on Wednesday, saying the young man’s death was senseless and easily preventable.

Armando Villa, who attended California State University, Northridge, died a year ago Wednesday after the 19-year-old collapsed during an 18-mile hike organized by Pi Kappa Phi. The group was hiking in hot temperatures with little water and inadequate shoes, a school investigation found.

The investigation concluded that hazing was to blame.

Villa’s mother and stepfather filed a lawsuit Wednesday against the university, school administrators and the fraternity, alleging negligence and hazing. The lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court, seeks unspecified damages.

“We’re just looking for a little closure and justice,” Villa’s mother, Betty Serrato, told The Associated Press on Wednesday. “They’ve ruined a life and broken a family.”

The lawsuit alleges that fraternity members forced pledges to go on the dangerous hike without adequate supplies as a last ritual before they could become full-fledged members. The lawsuit says the university had a duty to oversee fraternity activities and should have been aware of and stopped any hazing that was happening.

The national fraternity’s CEO, Mark Timmes, declined to comment on the lawsuit, except to reiterate that the organization closed its chapter at the school after Villa’s death.

“Our thoughts and prayers remain with Armando’s family and all those affected by his passing,” Timmes said in a statement.

The university declined to comment on the litigation, but said in a statement that any claim that the school “was in any way responsible for the tragic death of Armando Villa is untrue.”

The school cited its investigation and said it banned the fraternity from ever operating on campus again.

“The death of Armando was a tragedy and our hearts continue to go out to his family and friends,” the statement said.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department opened a criminal investigation after Villa’s death, though results haven’t been released, including a coroner’s report.

Sheriff’s Sgt. Richard Biddle, who investigated the case, said he has turned it over to the district attorney’s office to consider whether charges should be filed. A district attorney’s spokesman said the case was under review.

“We want the truth. We still want to know what happened out there,” Serrato said. “We deserve that much at least.”

In September, university President Dianne Harrison condemned hazing while addressing Villa’s death.

“Hazing is stupid, senseless, dangerous and against the law in California,” Harrison said. “It is a vestige of a toxic way of thinking in which it was somehow OK to degrade, humiliate and potentially harm others.”

Harrison is among those named in the lawsuit. She didn’t respond to a request for comment Wednesday.

TIME society

Justice Scalia Is Right—California Isn’t the Real West

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Zocalo Public Square is a not-for-profit Ideas Exchange that blends live events and humanities journalism.

But with immigration flatlining and the climate drying up, it may soon be

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia was on the wrong side of most Californians, and history, in his cranky dissent to last week’s landmark ruling legalizing same-sex marriage across the nation.

But, much as we might hate to admit it, Scalia was right when, in the same dissent, he argued that California isn’t part of the American West. And in so doing, he raised—almost certainly unwittingly—an important question about California’s future.

Scalia made his point via a swipe at his colleagues for being unrepresentative of the United States as a whole (and thus being foolish to impose their views on marriage equality on the entire country). After noting that all nine justices attended Harvard or Yale law schools and that only one grew up in the Midwest, he wrote: “Not a single Southwesterner or even, to tell the truth, a genuine Westerner.” But what about Justice Anthony Kennedy, who is from Sacramento? Scalia’s answer came parenthetically in the next line: “California does not count.”

The words “California does not count” prompted an array of California pundits and leaders to fly off the handle, and challenge the justice. How dare he disrespect California? Of course we count! “Antonin Scalia Doesn’t Heart California—or Get Us, Either,” said an LA Times headline.

Kamala Harris, California’s Attorney General and leading candidate for U.S. Senate, coolly countered Scalia—an old-school “originalist” who thinks the U.S. Constitution should be read as it was in 1789—with a line from old-school rapper Ice T: “Don’t hate the playa, hate the game.” You should know that Ice T’s line was inspired by one from Gandhi’s 1927 autobiography (“Hate the sin not the sinner”) and St. Augustine’s 424 A.D. letter (“with love for mankind and hatred of sins”), so Harris out-originalist-ed the originalist Supreme Court justice by more than 1,300 years. Snap.

Despite all the California retorts, Scalia’s fundamental point went unchallenged, perhaps because it is so clearly correct: California doesn’t fit in the American West. Or anywhere else, for that matter.

Indeed, the best book ever written about California—Carey McWilliams’ California: The Great Exception, published in 1949 and never out of print—is about precisely this reality. California is singular, among Western U.S. states, in how it was settled so early and grew so quickly. Our Western neighbors have always been slower, more plodding, less populous places. And so California became a ragtag giant among much smaller states in the West, defined by our sudden and explosive changes in culture, economy, and demographics.

“One cannot, as yet, properly place California in the American scheme of things,” wrote McWilliams, adding: “To understand this tiger all rules must be laid to one side. All the copybook maxims must be forgotten. California is no ordinary state; it is an anomaly, a freak, the great exception among the American states.”

Sixty-six years after those words were published, California is still an exception in many ways—we’re the only state to break ground on high-speed rail, we’re responsible for half of the country’s venture capital, and no one is as crazy about direct democracy as we are. Some, like the economist Bill Watkins at California Lutheran University, predict that coastal California will become even more exceptional, an ever-more-glittery playground for the global super rich, with the rest of California being populated by the working-class people who serve them.

But there is another possibility—that our state (or at least everything except the other-worldly Bay Area)—continues to change in ways that make us more closely resemble other Western states.

The crucial shift in this direction has been that California is no longer a state of arrival, a destination for the world. Immigration is flat. Over the last generation, more people have been leaving California for other states than have been moving here from the rest of the country. The high cost of living has been the prime force for driving out mostly lower-income folks.

Those outflows have given us more in common with neighboring states like Nevada, Arizona, Utah, Oregon—in two ways.

First, those states, having received so many Californians seeking more affordable housing, have effectively been colonized by us, and are beginning to vote and eat more like California. All four now have In-N-Out Burger outlets, as does Texas, another big destination for exiting Californians. And as we made huge hikes in tuition and limited enrollment in our public universities, more California high school graduates are heading to public universities in neighboring states. (I’ve seen see this phenomenon firsthand since I teach at Arizona State University).

Second, those of us left behind in California are also more Western—because we are more likely to have grown up here. In previous generations, California was populated by people from Asia, Latin America, and the American Midwest and South. But in today’s California, the majority is homegrown—born and raised in California—and the newer arrivals are more likely to be from Las Vegas than Little Rock.

This more-homegrown California is also becoming much older—and less dynamic. We remain more ethnically and racially diverse than other Western states, but there are signs that our diversity lead is narrowing. While out-migration from California slowed somewhat during the recession, it’s likely to pick up as our economy comes back and California becomes even more expensive.

It’s not just demography making us more Western; drought has a role too. We’re becoming a drier place, with dustier landscaping that resembles Arizona and Nevada. Last year, we finally regulated groundwater, as other Western states have been doing for years.

Of course, these trends could all change. But if they persist, and California continues to Westernize, it will pose questions for our state and our country. The fact that California was so exceptional often accelerated change nationwide. As the historian H.W. Brands has noted, the American dream was of slow, tedious Poor Richard’s Almanac-style growth until California became a state—and gave us a new, faster dream of rapidly accumulated wealth. Will it be good for us, and for America (Happy Birthday, by the way), if we become just another Western state?

For now, you are right, Justice Scalia. California doesn’t really count as Western. But time has a way of changing the meaning of many things, including marriage and our messy state.

Joe Mathews is California & innovation editor for Zócalo Public Square, for which he writes the Connecting California column.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME California

Cheerleaders Would Get Minimum Wage Under California Legislation

Some say cheerleaders are effectively paid less than minimum wage

New legislation in California would protect cheerleaders for professional sports teams from receiving low pay that some in the industry say amounts to less than minimum wage. The bill, the first of its kind in the nation, passed the California State Senate Monday and awaits the signature of Governor Jerry Brown.

Cheerleaders are often not considered team employees and are paid only for the time they perform on game days, not the hours spent rehearsing and appearing in promotional materials, proponents of the bill said. The legislation would require that California teams pay cheerleaders at least minimum wage for all the hours they work and offer them overtime pay and sick leave.

Read More: Pay Cheerleaders What They’re Worth

“Everyone who works hard to provide a great game day experience deserves the same basic level of dignity and respect on the job, starting with simply being paid for their work,” Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, who authored California’s legislation, said in a statement.

Sharon Vinick, a lawyer who helped former Oakland Raiders cheerleaders sue their onetime employer, praised the bill in an interview with the Associated Press, but said that not paying professional cheerleaders was already illegal under existing state law.

TIME California

California Woman Who Gave Birth in Wilderness Rescued After 3 Days

The mother and baby are expected to be reunited soon

A California woman who became lost in the wilderness while she was in labor was rescued on Saturday after a harrowing three-day ordeal.

Amber Pangborn, 30, was forced to give birth to her daughter alone in the Plumas County National Forest after her car ran out of gas, with no cell signal to dial for help, the Oroville, Calif., resident told NBC-affiliate KCRA-TV in Sacramento. Pangborn had been rushing to her parent’s home after she went into labor, and decided to take an unfamiliar shortcut through the woods when she became lost, the new mother recalled.

After defending her baby from bees and mosquitoes — and surviving off of just a few apples — Pangborn managed to start a fire that caught the attention of a U.S. Forest Service worker. “I was just crying, and I was just so happy. I thought we were going to die,” the woman told KCRA-TV.

The mother and daughter are expected to be reunited in the coming days.

[KCRA]

TIME Education

My Immigrant Students Don’t Test Well—But They’re Learning

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Zocalo Public Square is a not-for-profit Ideas Exchange that blends live events and humanities journalism.

In this high school classroom, resilience is as important as textbooks

My mother immigrated to the United States when she was 16, in May of 1943. Though she didn’t know English when she arrived, she claims that by the fall she was able to read Silas Marner. I am sure that this is not true, but she graduated and went on to get a doctorate in psychology. Despite narrowly escaping annihilation in the Holocaust, she arrived in this country with a suitcase of virtual advantages: her parents were Viennese doctors; she had already learned a second language, having lived the war years in Bolivia; and she had read hundreds of books.

I have spent the past 20 years teaching immigrant high schoolers, many of those years in California, where 23 percent of K-12 students are English learners. Though there are some young immigrants, like my mother, who arrive in this country with a strong academic foundation, the vast majority of them do not. They come mostly from rural communities in Mexico and Central America and their schooling is rudimentary at best; few have read one book, never mind many.

When we talk about educating immigrant students, we focus almost entirely on teaching them English, but for many students the needs run deeper. In 2012, I taught at the Fremont High School Newcomers Program in the Fruitvale neighborhood of East Oakland. My students there were Mayans from Guatemala, who had had so little formal schooling we needed to teach some of them the alphabet. But they were not empty-handed. They also brought with them hope, resilience, and an ability to rely on their community that was rare in their adopted neighborhoods.

The idea for newcomer high schools and programs within regular high schools took off in the 1970s because this focused instruction proved so effective at helping students integrate linguistically and culturally. Since 2000, though, their numbers have fallen by at least half because of postrecession budget cuts and difficulty conforming to the testing requirements of the No Child Left Behind Act.

Fremont High School had a 15-foot-high, barbed-wire fence, a security guard, and seven full-time security officers patrolling the grounds. The fence and guards were not there to keep people out, but rather to keep the students in. The buildings were dilapidated and covered with graffiti. The windows were barred, as were the doors, the lockers banged up and dented. There was rarely toilet paper in the bathrooms, and if there was, it was strewn all over the floor. After lunch, the halls and patios were covered with paper plates and half-eaten pizzas, apple cores, and purposefully squished oranges; the air was filled with cursing and the ubiquitous odor of marijuana. When it was windy, napkins flew about, keeping low like the ghosts of birds who had died a violent death.

The Newcomers Program, in contrast, is a sheltered environment, where immigrant teens study the basic subjects in English and take intensive English classes. Here students form a community, sharing curse words and traditional dances, as well as their problems. When one student was beaten so badly that he was hospitalized just a few weeks after he arrived in Oakland, the students supported him. I was struck by his maturity and lack of anger: “They thought that if they hurt me, they would be strong, but they are not strong,” he said.

My students had strong emotional survival skills, but they didn’t know that there were planets or that the Earth revolved around the sun. They did not know that the world was divided into continents or that it was round. They did not think it was flat, either. They had simply never thought about what the Earth was beyond where they were from. They did not know the difference between a city and a state and a country. They knew they were in California, but they didn’t quite understand the difference between California and Oakland and the United States.

So in the Newcomers Program, we all started from the beginning. I began my class with the Big Bang and continued on to the creation of the solar system and Earth, to Pangaea and tectonic plates and the seven continents and dinosaurs and the evolution of Homo sapiens. That took months. There were so many gaps in their knowledge that I kept finding I had to go back farther. Once when I said, “Save a tree. Don’t waste paper,” they asked me, “What do trees have to do with paper?” So I went all the way back to the beginning to show them how paper was made and to teach them about deforestation in the Amazon. They had never heard of the Amazon, so I had to backtrack again.

I felt as though I was always backtracking, though I understood that what we were really doing was moving slowly forward, building not only on what I taught them but also on the strength of what they had brought with them. Like my mother, they had survived violence and carried unique advantages. They know that they are strong—like the young man who was beaten so badly—for they have traveled through Mexico on the top of the train called La Bestia; they have been robbed by coyotes and crossed the desert on foot; they have brought with them their looms to weave huipiles so that they will never forget the past even as they are making their future.

My students made tremendous progress, but this progress looked like failure on the standardized tests: Their academic abilities were still far below grade-level and all tests are in English, which they have not yet mastered. By the time they are seniors, they most certainly will not be able to read Silas Marner. My most gifted Mam-speaking student is now in 11th grade, and is taking Algebra II in a regular high school class. The young man who was beaten up in his early days in Oakland is also on track to graduate, but many students have dropped out to have babies and work. Yet, this is not necessarily a failure. They have learned to speak English and how to read and write. They know that the universe began with a Big Bang and that paper comes from trees.

Over the past 20 years there has been a constant debate about how to educate immigrants, and most of this debate has focused on the acquisition of English: what proficiency in English is, how long it should take a student to reach it, and whether total immersion, bilingual education, or sheltered classes taught in English works best. Recently there has been an emphasis on cultural awareness and how to integrate this into the curriculum. All of these things are certainly part of the equation, but I have learned that there is no algorithm, no one ideal way to address all the needs of all English learners.

Because newcomers bring with them a great variety of skills and come from such diverse academic and cultural backgrounds, programs must be flexible. We cannot serve these students if we let ourselves be controlled by state and federal edicts or by the data accumulated by standardized tests and scientific studies. We must meet students where they are, keeping in mind what they have brought with them. There should be more vocational programs for students who are not on a college track and partnerships so that students can take hands-on courses in such fields as health technology, mechanics, and carpentry. When schools provide newcomers with the extra support they need and a safe, nurturing, and rigorous academic community, they will make progress. This progress will not necessarily be evident in the data, but it will be evident to them. This progress will be the foundation for a new generation of Americans.

Anne Raeff teaches English learners at East Palo Alto Academy. Her novel Clara Mondschein’s Melancholia came out in 2001 and she has just completed a memoir. She wrote this for “Reimagining California,” a partnership of the California Endowment and Zócalo Public Square.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME public health

California Governor Jerry Brown Signs Mandatory Vaccine Law

Law abolishes exemptions for personal beliefs

California Governor Jerry Brown signed a mandatory school vaccination bill into law Tuesday, abolishing the “personal belief” exemption that many parents use as a loophole to avoid vaccinating their children.

Now, under California law, which is among the strictest in the country, children would not be able to enroll in public school unless they have been vaccinated against diseases like measles and whooping cough. The law includes an exemption for children who have a medical reason to remain unvaccinated (like an immune system disorder) and can prove it with a doctor’s note. Parents who decline to vaccinate their children for personal or religious reasons will have to home-school them or send them to a public independent study program off school grounds.

Students who are unvaccinated because of “personal belief” who are already in public elementary school can stay until they’re in 7th grade, and then the parents will either have to vaccinate them or home-school them. Daycare students can stay until kindergarten, when they have to be either vaccinated or home-schooled. In the fall of 2014, almost 3% of California kindergartners were unvaccinated because of personal belief. Preschools in the most affluent areas are also the least likely to vaccinate, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The bill was proposed after a measles outbreak at Disneyland infected more 150 people, and many needed to be hospitalized. Supporters of the law argue that it is based on medical consensus that vaccinations improve public health. Opponents—who have been picketing outside the California legislature—argue that it’s an attack on personal freedom.

TIME Supreme Court

Supreme Court to Hear Challenge to Union Fee Collection

The Supreme Court Issues Orders On Lethal Injection And Redistricting
Mark Wilson—Getty Images An American flag flies over the U.S. Supreme Court June 29, 2015 in Washington, DC. ( Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

The case could affect 7 million public sector employees in 20 states

The Supreme Court announced Tuesday that it will hear a pivotal case against public-sector unions, deciding whether those unions can collect mandatory fees from non-members who benefit from collective bargaining.

The challenge comes from 10 non-unionized public school teachers in California who argue that paying the fee violates their free speech rights. They’re asking the Supreme Court to overturn a precedent from the 1970s that allows public sector unions to charges fees to non-union workers as long as the funds are not used for political activity.

California teachers’ unions and state Attorney General Kamala Harris have opposed the challenge, while conservative Justices have criticized the union precedent in the past. The case could affect 7 million public sector employees in 20 states, Reuters reports.

[Reuters]

 

TIME vaccines

Why Jerry Brown Was Right to Sign the California Vaccine Bill

Bad choice: Anti-vaxxers protesting the California vaccine bill
Rich Pedroncelli—AP Bad choice: Anti-vaxxers protesting the California vaccine bill

Jeffrey Kluger is Editor at Large for TIME.

The governor had a chance to protect thousands of children—and he did

Updated: June 30, 2015, 2:32 PM EDT

California does not often make common cause with Mississippi and West Virginia. America’s blue-red divide doesn’t come any wider than it does between the liberal laboratory of the Pacific West and the conservative cornerstones of the old south. But with a single signature on a single bill, California Gov. Jerry Brown ensured that the largest state in the nation joined the two far smaller ones in what ought to be a simple, primal mission: keeping children healthy.

The law, which passed the California legislature with bipartisan majorities, does a straightforward job—removing the religious and personal belief exemptions that allowed parents to refuse to vaccinate their children. The legislation leaves standing the medical exemption—the waiver families receive when a child has a manifest medical condition like a compromised immune system that would make vaccines dangerous. Under the new rules, families without the medical waiver face a choice: get your kids the shots or prepare to home-school them, which ensures they get an education but protects other children from whatever pathogens they may be carrying.

Mississippi and West Virginia are the only other states in the country that currently have such no-nonsense rules and they’ve got the stellar vaccination rates to prove it: fully 99.9% of the states’ kids are up to date on all their shots. California was right to follow the example of those southern-fried smarts. Only 90.4% of the Golden State’s kindergarteners had their full complement of vaccinations in the 2014-2015 school year. The worst offenders are the parents in the too-rich, too-famous, too-smart by half provinces of Silicon Valley, where vaccination rates in some day care centers struggle to crack the 50% mark.

That matters—a lot. When vaccine coverage falls below 95%, communities begin to lose what’s known as herd immunity, the protection a fully inoculated population provides to the relative handful of its members who can’t be vaccinated. California has suffered the consequences of that, with outbreaks of whooping cough and mumps across the state. Earlier this year, more than 100 cases of measles in California and Mexico were traced to a single unvaccinated visitor to Disneyland. That outbreak, at one of the state’s most iconic destinations, at last got Sacramento’s attention, and the new law, though hotly debated, passed.

Brown was vague at first about whether he would sign the bill and that left a lot of health policy experts worried. He had signed an earlier bill that preserved the personal belief exemption but at least made it harder for families to claim one. No longer could parents simply check a box on a form—an awfully easy thing to do without giving the matter much thought. Under the previous law, they would have to visit a health care provider who would sign a statement confirming that the parents had been informed of the benefits (too many to enumerate) and the risks (vanishingly small) of vaccination. Once they’re in the doctor’s office, plenty of parents come around. But Brown, a one-time Jesuit seminarian who has made no secret of his spiritual side over the years, carved out an exception in that law for religious beliefs.

He was right not to make the same mistake this time. There was a time when religious exemptions were no cause for worry. The share of Americans whose faith forbids vaccinations is exceedingly small, and as long as the herd remained intact, those kids would remain safe. But that was before the nonsense factory of the anti-vaccine community went into operation, churning out all manner of misinformation about autism and brain damage and big pharma conspiring with big government to inject unsuspecting children with toxins. The result: Vaccine rates have plummeted nationwide, and children have paid the price.

The tension between religious liberty and civic responsibility is hardly a new issue in the American system. If your religion does no harm to anyone else—least of all kids—you ought to be free to practice it in peace. But if that faith requires prayer to treat pediatric cancer or laying on of hands as a cure for severe pneumonia, the state ought to be able to intervene and provide proper care if you won’t and prosecute you if your child is injured or killed. In some states that’s indeed possible but in others it’s not, and a complex patchwork governs the level of care each state will or won’t mandate.

Mandatory testing for lead levels in blood? OK in most places, but not if you live in Delaware, Maine, Kansas, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Rhode Island, where religious exemptions are available. Mandatory eyedrops to help prevent blindness in newborns? An important preventive for kids born to mothers with certain kinds of STDs—but they may be out of luck if they’re born in Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, or Pennsylvania.

The kids, it’s worth noting, did not choose to be born in states with weak protections. And they don’t choose either to be born to parents who look at vaccines and see in them something sinister or dangerous or strangely unholy.

Anti-vax parents came into a world of medically rational adults who had seen the wages of polio or diphtheria or smallpox or whooping cough and were grateful for a preventive that could eliminate those horrors. Jerry Brown himself came into that world too. Contemporary children deserve the same kind of wisdom and the same kind of care the grown-ups around them enjoyed. And California children deserve a governor who will see to it that that they get it.

Today Brown lived up to that responsibility.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Money

How Rich Immigrants Can Solve L.A.’s Housing Crisis

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Zocalo Public Square is a not-for-profit Ideas Exchange that blends live events and humanities journalism.

If the city wants affordable homes, it needs to tap into funds from wealthy foreign investors

How could Los Angeles pay for more affordable housing?

One answer is money from wealthy immigrants.

To build apartments that are accessible to low-income residents, high-rent cities across the country—from San Francisco to Miami—have been tapping funds from EB-5, a federal government program that offers U.S. green cards to foreigners in exchange for investments in U.S. businesses. Launched in 1990 as a vehicle to create jobs, the program requires each investor to give at least $500,000 to a business that provides 10 full-time jobs to Americans. The investment is “at-risk,” so there’s no guaranteed return.

As an immigrant, a former securities lawyer and the founder of a business, I immediately found EB-5 compelling, and have worked to spread the word about its advantages and make it more transparent. I’ve created EB5 Investors Magazine, EB5investors.com, and a series of educational EB-5 conferences.

But the program was rarely used and little known until the Great Recession hit and traditional sources of capital dried up. Since then, real estate developers have embraced EB-5 funds from foreign investors around the world as an alternative for financing all kinds of construction projects, including buildings that contain affordable housing units. EB-5 funds helped build 115 affordable units at Stadium Place, an office-hotel-retail-residential project located in front of the Seattle Seahawks stadium. San Francisco’s massive Shipyard development in Bayview-Hunters Point, one of the poorest sections of the city, includes several hundred million dollars from individual EB-5 investors. As part of its negotiation with the city, the Shipyard developer pledged to devote 30 percent of its planned 10,000 units to affordable housing. And last month, Miami Mayor Tomas Regalado said that his city plans to target EB-5 immigrant investors as a source for financing an ambitious agenda to build affordable housing.

Like Los Angeles, most of the cities that have benefited from EB-5 appear toward the top of “least affordable’’ lists of U.S. cities. They all have large populations of homeless people, although Los Angeles has the highest number. (The homeless population in L.A. County grew by 12 percent in the past two years; the number of tents, vehicles, and homemade shelters being used as housing jumped 85 percent.)

But Los Angeles hasn’t cultivated EB-5 projects that involve affordable housing. Instead, L.A. developers with EB-5 have focused on building hotels – an easier route when you have to show job creation. Flag hotels in big cities are also easier to “sell” than low-income housing with migration agents in China who connect potential immigrant investors with projects. Of course, San Francisco and Seattle projects face the same reality and have gotten deals done. That suggests that developers here need a nudge to be more creative; one nudge might involve some form of city incentives.

Yes, there are challenges. Real estate developers, will tell you that affordable housing—defined as housing priced for people making less than 50 percent of a community’s median income—is notoriously difficult to greenlight because it is perceived as unprofitable. But what they don’t understand is that the use of EB-5 funds can help developers overcome that hurdle.

The big advantage for developers is that EB-5 funds are relatively cheap capital. Most EB-5 investors want to immigrate to the U.S. to raise their families, send their children to American universities, and take advantage of the entrepreneurial opportunities. A large return on investment is down the list for these immigrants. That translates into reduced demand for a high rate of return, which ends up costing the borrower less.

Another advantage: developers don’t have to put as much cash into projects, because of the lower proportion of equity in most EB-5 deals. In a typical deal using EB-5 funding, the developer maintains equity amounts equal to between just 15 and 25 percent of the total project cost.

Los Angeles affordable housing advocates would do well to look into EB-5 funding as an alternative source for financing mixed-use projects that include affordable and workforce housing. The money is there. Investors from China, Latin America, Europe, and the Middle East already have invested billions of dollars of capital through the EB-5 program with the hope of raising their children in the U.S. What better way to use wealthy investors’ funds than by helping to finance the construction of housing for middle and low-income Angelenos?

Ali Jahangiri is the founder of EB5 Investors Magazine and EB5Investors.com, a platform allowing investors to communicate directly with attorneys, and developers to connect with EB-5 regional centers and funding sources.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Infectious Disease

California Lawmakers Pass Strict School Vaccine Bill

The bill ends vaccine exemptions for personal beliefs

The California senate has passed a bill that requires most children in public schools to get vaccinations and ends exemptions from vaccinations for personal beliefs.

The bill only allows for kids with serious health problems to not get vaccinated.

The bill is now heading to California Governor Jerry Brown, who has not said whether he will sign the bill. It would be one of the strictest vaccination laws in the country.

California recently experienced an outbreak of measles that was tied to a Disneyland amusement park. Many of the people infected were not vaccinated.

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