As the landscape of downtown Los Angeles is being transformed into a more expensive enclave of luxury apartments and condominiums, and deep-pocket land developers expand their real estate portfolios and profitability in one of the most expensive real estate markets in the country, many downtown senior citizens and other families face imminent displacement and possible homelessness as they are getting pushed-out of their community to make way for development.
To protest this ongoing displacement, victims, volunteers, and staffers from Strategic Actions for a Just Economy (SAJE) recently gathered on the corner of Olympic Street and Georgia Street, adjacent to the Staples Center, to draw attention to the damaging and rapid trend of displacement in Downtown Los Angeles.
“There isn’t anyplace for poor folks to go anymore, maybe another building, maybe the streets, maybe out of Los Angeles,” Davin Corona, SAJE’s director of organizing said. “Most of the tenants have been living here for many years and don’t have other options in this accelerated housing market.”
Three buildings around Olympic Street are among the last buildings left in what used to be a working class neighborhood. The situation is the most current example of how rapid displacement is underway in the quickly-developing downtown neighborhood of South Park.
Six weeks ago, the building was full. Since that time, most of the tenants have been displaced by way of harassment, scare tactics, and offers of relocation money. Only a few families still remain.
“The problem with relocation offers,” Robert McCall, who lives in one of the area hotels slated for demolition and subsequent new development said, “as a Section-8 participant there are few, comparable properties willing to accept Section-8 tenants.”
“In my building, which is the Haywood Hotel,” he continued, “there are about 500 people, mostly Black and mostly single, who will have no place to go unless someone steps in and acquires the property so that it may be preserved as a residential facility.”
McCall, who is retired, notes that it is his understanding that over 90 percent of the homeless residents in the downtown area are Black and he does not wish to be among them.
SAJE is an economic justice organization that has been building economic power for working class people in Los Angeles for over 12 years. They are presently focused on the 11 square mile complex of communities that comprise the Figueroa Corridor, which is the home to 200,000 working class people. Their aim is to halt the tidal wave of real estate speculation and gentrification that has caused unprecedented displacement of historic communities of color.
Under the umbrella of ‘urban land reform,’ their long-term goals are to expand tenants’ rights, criminalize slumlords, reform re-development, increase people’s control over land use and provide good jobs and income for local residents.
For more information about SAJE’s efforts on behalf of the residents of downtown Los Angeles, contact Tafarai Bayne at (213) 743-2589.