LA City, families displaced by 2021 LAPD fireworks explosion reach $21 million settlement

The Los Angeles City Council Tuesday unanimously approved a new $21 million settlement for families impacted by LAPD’s botched fireworks explosion in 2021.

"It’s sad that it took this long, but we’re glad the council unanimously decided to do that," said Ron Gochez from Union Del Barrio.

In June of 2021, LAPD’s bomb squad ignited the massive explosion of illegal fireworks in the South LA neighborhood along 27th Street. Seventeen people were injured, 35 buildings damaged, and dozens of people have been displaced.

Ever since the explosion, displaced families have been living out of a hotel in downtown Los Angeles, including Maria Velasquez.

RELATED: 3 years later, families impacted by LAPD's botched fireworks explosion may face homelessness

"I wish I could smile more, but I’m happy," said Maria Velasquez, reacting to the settlement. I’m really happy for my family and everybody on 27th."

Velasquez says living in a hotel for 3 years has been rough and hasn’t felt like home.

"It’s nice to be in a hotel, but birthdays, Christmas, Thanksgiving, holidays, it’s awful," said Velasquez. "We can’t even call this a home."

The new $21 million settlement includes housing at the hotel for displaced resident until February 2025. In addition, it extends the contract for All People Community Center until the end of December. The Center has been acting as a liaison between residents and the city. Finally, the settlement allocates $848,000 towards a community fund, but it doesn’t clarify on what that fund will do. It’s unclear how the $20 million will be disturbed among the 19 cases.

"The $10 million that’s already been spent, that could have been used to repair their homes," said Gochez. "But the city council and the mayor dragged their feet on this issue and that ended up costing the taxpayers way more money than what was necessary."

"The victims of the 27th Street fireworks explosion have endured unimaginable pain and trauma that will last a lifetime. Reaching these financial settlements were a crucial step toward their healing, rebuilding their lives, and finding stability and peace.

Councilmember Curren Price’s provided a written statement reacting to the settlement.

"Over the past three years, this process has been agonizingly slow, and on behalf of the City of Los Angeles, I regret that it took so long to reach this point. However, getting here wasn't easy and required the collective effort of multiple departments, lawyers, and other stakeholders, presenting significant challenges along the way. I understand the victims’ continued frustration, but my Office has never abandoned them. Our commitment to supporting every single household has been steadfast since day one. We have advocated for emergency funds, provided interim housing, established a neighborhood resource center, facilitated home repairs, distributed grants, and ensured access to basic necessities such as medicine, clothing and food. Additionally, we collaborated with medical professionals to offer check-ups, mental health services, and other vital support, and worked with interagency partners and nonprofits to obtain housing vouchers, relocation assistance, and other social services. The truth is, this incident should never have happened and was entirely preventable, and we’re still reeling from it all these years later. It is my firm expectation that the LAPD has learned from this disaster and has taken every necessary step to prevent such tragedies from occurring ever again in the future for the sake of our City."