Cynde Soto Leader Spotlight


Cynde Soto


How long have you lived in Long Beach?

I have lived here since 1980. 32 years.

How long have you been involved with HLB?

About 3-4 years

Who is your role model?

Ed Roberts who is a quadriplegic and who couldn’t breath on his own. The world was not accessible to him and he wanted to go to college. He started the first independent living center, the Department of Rehabilitation, which helps people with disabilities get employment. He became the department head even though he was told he didn’t need to go to school because he couldn’t do anything with his degree. He had tenacity and believed in his dreams and wouldn’t give up on them.

What’s one thing you would like to see changed in Long Beach?

I would like to see fewer homeless people. People need to have homes. I believe that SRO-single room occupancies would be a good step in getting more people housed.

How have you grown through your involvement with Housing Long Beach?

I am more confident in my public speaking – big time.  I’ve broadened my knowledge on housing issues that not just covers disabilities but I’ve also seen how low-income housing affects the larger community. I feel more relaxed in talking about housing to anybody. I was a total disabilities nerd and it helped me break out of that, which is definitely a good thing.

What skill has been most useful for you to learn?

Confidence to say what I know and what I think.

What work do you do for HLB?

I am a spokesperson, taken leadership classes, help with community outreach and education, participate in Action Council meetings, call city council members and attend legislative meetings, help with social media, and assist in strategic planning. I also bring the disability perspective to HLB.

What has been your favorite memory with HLB?

Probably going to DC with the Leadership Academy. It was memorable doing the direct actions at people’s houses and being part of such a large diverse group. You could really feel the power of the people doing that. The first big plenary session I felt the power that we weren’t just a little tiny group in LB fighting for affordable housing but we are part of a much larger national social justice movement. To see the energy and the passion of everyone was something I will never forget.

When did your passion for social justice come alive?

I experienced so much discrimination growing up the passion has always been in me since I was a kid.

How have you seen your work have an impact on the city of Long Beach?

Before there was really no multi-generational multi-cultural large organized group working for affordable housing.  We are getting our legislative representatives to recognize that there is a powerful group of people out there watching them. It’s made low- income and disenfranchised people’s concerns much louder and part of the dialogue in the city. Holding decision makers accountable to their actions—to everyone, not just the people with money.