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Coalition plans summit to fight gentrification

LEIMERT PARK — A coalition of local organizations aimed at fighting gentrification is holding what they are calling a Resist Gentrification Action Summit Dec. 2 at Audubon Middle School, 4120 11th Ave.

More than 40 tenants rights, civil rights, faith-based and social justice organizations are coming together to fight California’s ongoing housing crisis, organizers said.

Among the groups participating are AIDS Healthcare Foundation, Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment – Los Angeles, Black Community Clergy and Labor Alliance, CDTech, Crenshaw Subway Coalition, Eviction Defense Network, Fannie Lou Hamer Institute and Los Angeles Community Action Network.

The daylong summit will run from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Morning sessions will include building tenant power, expanding renter’s rights, stopping the criminalization of black and brown lives, stopping deportations, fighting Wall Street landlords and real estate speculation and stabilizing communities through community planning and zoning.

Afternoon sessions will include community land trusts, community ownership as a means for improvement; cooperatives, sharing the benefits of business and housing; reimagining public housing: models that work in the U.S. and abroad; and ensuring wealth transfers, creating wills and trusts, insurance, and avoiding scams.

According to organizers, goals of the summit are to unite the community behind the ongoing effort to repeal the Costa-Hawkins Rental Act, allowing localities to strengthen protections against rent increases; sharing protective strategies to keep residents in their homes and neighborhoods, such as building tenant power, stopping criminalization as a tool of gentrification and countering real estate speculation; and sharing community wealth-building tools to improve communities without displacement, such as community land trusts, cooperatives, quality community-controlled public housing, and more.

Construction of the LAX-Crenshaw Rail Line in South Los Angeles is spurring talks of gentrification. A summit on resisting gentrification will be held Dec. 2 at Audubon Middle School. (Photo by Dennis J. Freeman)

Groups throughout South Los Angeles have been complaining about gentrification for several years.

Earlier this month, residents of South L.A. and the UNIDAD Coalition gathered on the steps of City Hall to ask the City Council’s Planning and Land Use Management committee to stand with the community’s vision for future development in their neighborhoods.

“Through years of neglect by our government and private investors, I’ve watched my neighbors disappear from my community,” said Steven Love II, who lives in Council District 9. “Many of them have been priced out because of rising rents and lack of work opportunity. I’m still here and I want to contribute to this conversation.”

“City leaders have an opportunity to listen to what disenfranchised residents need, not just those with political capital and access to policy discussions,” said Benjamin Torres, president and CEO of CDTech. “Literally, hundreds of residents were engaged through dozens of meetings to create the People’s Plan. That’s how important this is to folks like small business owners, tenants, students, and homeowners. They crafted a coherent vision and have made a strong case for being taken seriously.”

The groups have asked the City Council to incorporate the People’s Plan into the community plans for South and Southeast Los Angeles.

The People’s Plan includes 41 specific recommendations to increase the affordable housing stock, protecting tenants and businesses from displacement, and investing in parks and green space.

“I got involved in organizing my community for the People’s Plan,” said Orinio Opinaldo, a South L.A. resident in Council District 8. “South L.A.’s community plans could repeat the same mistakes of the past if I’m not a part of the conversation. My friends, family and neighbors are facing threats of eviction even though we work hard, follow the rules and pay our taxes. This community is beautiful and I want to fight for resources to come in and lift us up, not push us out.”

“South L.A. has seen the mass exodus of its Black residents over the past decade because of short-sighted profit-driven development,” said Cynthia Strathmann, executive director of Strategic Actions for a Just Economy. “The heart of its existing working class and low-income communities of color now have an opportunity to work with our city leaders to pass good land-use policy that creates more affordable housing through incentives, and keeps residents in their communities.”

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