For Homeboy Industries, a Bakery, Tattoo Removal, and Now Housing?

Over the past three decades, the local adoration for Homeboy Industries has nearly been matched by the nonprofit’s innovation and ability to form high-level connections. Founded by Father Gregory Boyle in East Los Angeles in 1988 with the aim to help gang members change their lives, it has gained legendary status.

The program that early on was known for its bakery—a place for often tattooed former gang members to get work experience and a paycheck—has expanded in unprecedented ways. In 2007 it moved to an $8.5 million headquarters on Bruno Street in Chinatown. Homeboy, billed as the world’s largest gang intervention, rehabilitation, and re-entry program, offers a wealth of services, from tattoo removal to mental health and substance abuse programs. It operates a panoply of businesses—“social enterprises” in the Homeboy parlance—including a silkscreen and embroidery shop, and an electronics recycling operation.