Hawaiian GardensA Small City with a big heart
Hawaiian Gardens is an inner-city community in SE LA County, east of Long Beach. As of 2019, about 14,000 people live within the one-square-mile city limits. Nearly 24% of those individuals live in poverty and 80% are Hispanic. The median household income is under $50,000. Today, more than 70% of the City’s general revenue comes from the Gardens Casino and is the area’s largest employer.
Despite its small size, the crime rate is higher than the national average, with residents facing a 1 in 46 chance of becoming a victim of property or violent crime. In fact, Hawaiian Gardens was the center of the nation’s largest gang investigation and prosecution, in 2009, when more than 200 defendants indicted in the FBIs Operation Knockout. The Way Out started in Hawaiian Gardens in the mid 1980s when the Mexican Mafia was at its most dangerous, and although Operation Knockout went a long way to clean up the streets of Hawaiian Gardens, the work The Way Out has done over the last 30 years has given the youth of this area a chance at finding a safe, and welcoming community.