As part of our DNA, Community Coalition works with community members to elevate the voices of everyday people to shift power and secure resources for the 8th, 9th, and 10th Council Districts in Los Angeles, where our members live. The pandemic economy pushed Southern California’s housing market into overdrive, and the “$1-million home” is the norm across neighborhoods from West Adams to Inglewood. Between May 2021 and May 2022, rents rose by more than 15% to an average of more than $2,000 across the nation as a whole, according to Bloomberg.com. And just before the pandemic, the region’s homeless population had exploded in size, growing by 25% between 2018 and 2020.
Since the 1970s, South L.A. has historically been home to most of the city’s African American population. Hundreds of U.S. manufacturing companies were based in the area before fleeing overseas for cheaper labor. During those boom years, manufacturing businesses in South Los Angeles afforded Blacks stable employment, home-buying power, and the opportunity for middle-class lifestyles.
My Uncle Wallace worked for Uniroyal Tires on Central Avenue. I remember how proud we were when he and my aunt moved into their first house on Ruthelen Street. However, when the tire company left—like all the other manufacturing companies—they took thousands of well-paying, unionized, and skilled labor jobs away from the area.
The ’80s saw a continuation of this trend as the region lost more than 70,000 jobs between 1978 and 1982. With that disinvestment came the crack cocaine epidemic and widespread homelessness, which had been comprised mostly of single, often older, White men living on Skid Row.
Following three more decades of racialized segregation, job discrimination, and residential redlining, Blacks were experiencing being unhoused on a widespread level. The 2008 recession led to a foreclosure crisis that was acutely felt within the African American community; culminating in a loss of homeownership that left more than 50% of Blacks in Los Angeles renting rather than owning.
With homeownership presenting the most significant single asset in most American families for wealth transfer, the inability to bequeath a home has implications for continued intergenerational poverty amongst Black households. Ensuing decades have seen multiple waves of cultural, racial, and ethnic groups put down roots in South L.A., adding to the displacement of African American residents.
In this current cycle, would-be Black owners and renters are being pushed out of the South Los Angeles neighborhoods they and their families have called home for decades — some into outlying areas and others onto the actual streets.
I live between two major thoroughfares (close to the new SoFi Stadium), and I’ve watched as home prices have topped the one million dollar mark down Van Ness Avenue while encampments have exponentially increased down Western Avenue. Today, African Americans comprise eight percent of L.A. County’s population and a staggering 34% of its homeless.
South LA has always had to fight to have its voice heard. And, it has been (and will be) no different on the issues of homelessness, displacement, and the right to live in communities in which we have grown up.
We are saying it loud and clear … this will not happen in our South L.A.- at least not without a fight.
As part of that fight, Community Coalition supports Measure ULA, which will be on the November ballot. Measure ULA is about investing back into our communities, and our people in order to address the number one issue on most Angelenos’ minds — housing.
Funded by a 4% transfer tax on transactions valued between $5 million and $10 million and 5.5% on those valued at $10 million and above, this will only affect about 4% of all real estate transactions in a given year. Moreover, it is a one-time tax only when a property is sold.
Measure ULA would generate an estimated $900 million a year. The funded would be divided between increasing the supply of affordable housing by approximately70%. Thirty percent would go to help keep people in their homes, preventing them from falling into homelessness.
The funding will also include:
- Support legal defense, which could assist more than 23,000 households annually with legal counsel and evictions.
- Direct cash assistance to older adults and people with disabilities so they can remain in their homes.
And unlike housing legislation of the past, ULA will be implemented with strong citizen oversight to help ensure affordable housing gets built and South Los Angeles residents stay housed and/or be rehoused in a timely fashion.
Marsha Mitchell is the communications director for Community Coalition.