Overview & Background
The affordable housing crisis in Los Angeles is well-documented. Affordable housing is housing that a household can pay for while still having money left over for other necessities like food, transportation, and health care. In 2016, Los Angeles voters passed Measure HHH, a $1.2 billion bond to subsidize the development of 10,000 units of affordable and permanent supportive housing. The first affordable apartments financed under the ballot opened in January 2020 and there are many project proposals awaiting approval and construction.
For this assignment, you will be writing a persuasive letter to a government official, urging that mitigation measures to reduce exposure to air pollution be taken for all new affordable housing projects. These measures may include:
- Using double-glazed windows
- Using filters for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning that remove 90% of particles in the 1-3 µm range
- Planting additional trees on nearby streets
While it is optional to send your letter, you have the right to engage your government officials around matters that are important to you and this shows you one option for how to do so. You will be addressing your letter to the Department of Neighborhood Empowerment, a department in Los Angeles that works to promote civic engagement and make the government more responsive to local needs.
The map below shows a few locations of existing and planned locations for affordable housing developments near Los Angeles. (There are many more located all throughout Southern California!) Click on the house icons on the map to learn more about each site.
Writing Your Persuasive Letter
WikiHow has a great article about how to write a persuasive letterLinks to an external site. that has suggestions for how to organize your ideas and gives you an example of how you will need to format your letter. As you are writing, be concise and try to use clear uncluttered sentences. The specific requirements for your letter are listed below.
- State your main point in the first couple of sentences. Start with a friendly opening sentence, then get straight to the point. State the necessity of air pollution mitigation measures for affordable housing projects and briefly explain the importance of such measures.
- Emphasize the importance of your request. Using the map, give an example of a specific affordable housing site that is at risk of exposure to air pollution. Name at least two specific sources of particulate matter that could be increasing the air pollution at this site. You should zoom in on the map to help you with this.
- For example, an affordable housing site on E Washington Blvd in Commerce would be exposed to elevated levels of particulate matter from the BNSF Railway and from vehicular traffic associated with the Commerce Casino.
- Support your request in the next paragraphs. The next few paragraphs should justify your position by providing background information and details. Use statistics and biological content knowledge to appeal to your reader’s reason and cite your sources.
- Discuss the health risks that air pollution poses by using details from your Health Impacts of Air Pollution discussion post. You must discuss at least two health conditions in your letter. You should talk about the physiology of the conditions as well as the PM2.5-associated risk ratios (from the graph).
- Close the letter by restating your request. Restate the necessity of air pollution mitigation measures for affordable housing projects at the end of your letter.
- Include a full reference list for all in-text citations at the end (reference list may be on a separate page).
In order to receive full credit, your letter must:
- Be in business format (block formattingLinks to an external site.)
- Include your name and address (you may use PCC’s address)
- Include the name and address of the recipient
- Department of Neighborhood Empowerment
Los Angeles City Hall 20th Floor
200 North Spring Street, Suite 2005
Los Angeles, California 90012
- Department of Neighborhood Empowerment
- Begin with a salutation and end with closing statement
- Be no longer than 1 page
- Cite a minimum of 1 credible source of information (reference list may be on a separate page)
You will need to upload a .pdf. Google Docs and most other word processors will allow you to save your file as .pdf. The final draft of your letter will be run through Turnitin.
Note: While I am not specifically grading you on your spelling or grammar, scientific communication is an important skill. Please proofread and spellcheck before submitting to ensure that your ideas come across clearly. Up to 10% may be deducted for excessive grammar and spelling errors that affect the readability of your work.
To see how this assignment will be graded, scroll down to view the grading rubric. If no rubric is visible, click on the three dots in the upper right corner of this page, then click “Show Rubric”. If you’re reviewing this assignment using the Canvas mobile app, the rubric is included in the Grade tab.
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