Keeping People at Home
By Heidy Melchor, Second year Public Affairs and Labor Studies major, Minor in Chicanx and Central American Studies
Growing up I would ride the bus from East Hollywood to Downtown Los Angeles. The bus would take my mother and I through Sunset Blvd throughout the different neighborhoods of LA. My favorite neighborhood was always Echo Park, I would see the mural of Selena, A Mexican-American Singer, and we would stop by the food truck and buy some fruit, and shop along the small fashion stores owned by Latinx families. But, today whenever we drive by Echo Park, we see coffee shops, vintage stores, and vegan restaurants.
Echo Park is a neighborhood that is home to the Latinx community and many Mexican immigrants from the early 2000s. This neighborhood tells the story of the Chicanx Culture and the early settlement of Mexican Immigrants. Today, Echo Park has become a Gentrified neighborhood, with vegan restaurants and a new wave of hippy restaurants and stores, whipping away the culture and history of the Chicanx culture of Los Angeles. Unfortunately, this is not the only neighborhood confronting the challenges of Gentrification
Echo Park’s Family Medical Clinic, with Chicanx Mural (imageCultural Weekly)
Eightfold Coffee Shop | Echo Park, Los Angeles 2016 (image via sprudge.com)
Gentrification is the economic change in historically disinvested neighborhoods, this occurs when investors begin to purchase real estate in communities that are low-income which increases the living cost in these neighborhoods forcing people out of these communities. This often looks like what we see in Echo Park where investors begin placing new restaurants and apartment complexes for a middle/high-class demographic, which increases the prices dramatically in these neighborhoods. As the prices begin to increase, these low-income communities, often Latinx and Black families are forced to move out because they cannot uphold and pay their expenses in their own neighborhood. This causes the demographic in these neighborhoods to change, as it attracts a new demographic such as the middle-class folks.
Presently, different parts of Los Angeles are facing gentrification. According to the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Luskin School of Public Affairs interactive map of gentrification, demonstrates the southern regions of Los Angeles that are being gentrified. Parts of Jefferson Park and West Adams, are parts of Los Angeles that are currently struggling to keep their communities at home. The lack of affordable and accessible housing for these communities causes them to move to exurban areas and readjust their lifestyle.
There are multiple reasons as to why Los Angeles is experiencing this change, one of them being the expansion of the Metro Purple Line and Crenshaw/LAX Line extending. Metro is promising to offer subway transportation to LAX, and train rides from Santa Monica to East Los Angeles. These communities are homes to Latinx and Black families that are facing a rent increase among different changes in their neighborhoods. These areas are called transit-oriented development (TOD), which is the radius near the development of the metro lines that are largely affecting the increase of rent. Neighboring communities of these are also facing this challenge such as Chinatown, Highland Park, communities in East Los Angeles, and Hollywood. The LA City government needs to take action and help their residents by building low-income complexes in these communities.
Metro Purple Line Extension | Image via Metro.net
According to the report by the Los Angeles County Annual Affordable Housing Outcomes Report, in 2018 The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors decided to create the Affordable Housing Programs in 2015. Through this program, 111,000 affordable homes were created for people in Los Angeles County in need of low-income housing. Although these numbers are pretty high, there is still a big waiting line for families in need of low-income housing. The demand to create more affordable housing for low-income folks is a priority and needs to be.
Rather than focusing on the development of affordable housing, the city is seeing the development of hotels and tourist attractions. Los Angeles has had an increase in the building of Luxury Hotels, for tourists. Many of these Hotels are located in Hollywood, Downton LA, and Santa Monica and are redeveloped from historic buildings in Los Angeles. Hotels attract tourism and affect the entire economy in the surrounding neighborhoods of these hotels. These Hotels are still under construction, and Los Angeles will continue to build luxury hotels. The city's local government needs to take action on the issue of Gentrification and the lack of aid being emplaced to help these communities that are being affected by this continued development of their city.
Equinox Hotel at Grand in Downtown LA | image via
Although some might argue that Section 8, which is a Federally Funded Program that allows low-income qualifying families to pay a low price for apartments. It is important to realize that Section 8 does not provide many families with this housing opportunity, it is all dependent on the amount of housing the city is able to construct for these families. Los Angeles has a high demand for Section 8 housing, and only about 3% of families that apply for Section 8, are given a home, due to the lack of apartment complexes built for Section 8 and low-income housing. LA County needs to build more apartment complexes rather than building hotels. Understandably, the city is experiencing a transformation that should provide these communities facing the consequences, given an affordable place to call home in their own community, rather than pushing them away.
Image provided by ADU Research LA Mas
Los Angeles is a city with many different cultures, histories, and has been home to different people of different backgrounds. Los Angeles is a developing city that is constantly changing, preserving the history of the different cultures is important, it makes Los Angeles the unique and rival city that it is today. Taking action and building affordable housing for low-income communities in their own communities, is the least the city can do. Giving these families home in their own neighborhood.