By John W. Davis
INGLEWOOD — Sometimes it takes a holistic approach to effect change in a community.
Issues like housing, education, jobs, public green spaces, and civic participation could be considered separate topics. However, Woodrow Curry III, a co-founder of the Uplift Inglewood Coalition, thinks they are interconnected.
He also believes the key to unlocking Inglewood’s potential is “accountability.”
“We’re now seeing that people are starting to pay more attention,” Curry said.
Curry, who has a professional background in labor organizing, helped create the Uplift Inglewood Coalition in 2016, in response to the land speculation surrounding the new football stadium being built where the old Hollywood Park race track used to stand.
“Properties were going up. … The rents in my building went up,” Curry said.
As a lead organizer and a resident of Inglewood, Curry said he now realizes rent increases weren’t just going up on his block. He said residents reported increases all over the city of Inglewood.
“We found out through researching other cities that had experienced similar developments that there was about to be this big influx of investment in our city, which is a good thing,” Curry said.
“We did know that we wanted those corporations that were coming in to be accountable and to help build a vision for our city that included those of us who lived there, not just marketed to the people that they wanted to live there, so that’s kind of how we started the coalition,” he added.
Three years later, Uplift Inglewood, which is now a coalition of about 10 different community-based organizations, is focused on “community benefits.”
“We’ve seen it change in narrative,” Curry said. “But in terms of on the ground, we haven’t seen much in the way of community benefits.”
However, Curry believes Uplift Inglewood Coalition, which does not endorse political candidates, is still getting real results.
“Over the past few years, number one we raised the concerns of our whole city that no one was really paying attention to before, including the fact that our city doesn’t have rent control,” Curry said.
Curry said Uplift Inglewood has also rallied against the building of the proposed Los Angeles Clippers arena.
“We’re pushing for the use of our public land to be used for public purposes,” Curry said, adding that the proposed Clippers arena location would be a perfect site for affordable housing.
Meanwhile, Inglewood Mayor James T. Butts sees the issue from a different perspective.
“Make sure that we continue the emphasis on the commitment to our local people and make sure that everybody rises together as we become the sports entertainment capital of the western United States,” Butts said Nov. 6, the night he was elected to his third term as Inglewood’s mayor.
“First, the local hire requirement for union scale prevailing wage jobs is important because these aren’t entry-level jobs. These are good-paying jobs that allow people to support their families and purchase housing that’s in the middle class,” Butts added.
“We can’t forget our seniors and we can’t forget our young people that are coming up and need affordable places to live. Inglewood has more more affordable housing, both in whole numbers and as a percentage of the population than any place in the South Bay. Forty-three percent of the affordable housing that’s open in Inglewood has opened in the last seven years.”
In 2019, Uplift Inglewood expects to continue pushing elected officials to enact renter’s protections.
“We’re still fighting to protect small businesses, the renters, the most vulnerable in our city,” Curry said. “A lot of people forget that those small businesses, most of those are also tenants. If a number of people who shop at the beauty supply store no longer live in the community, that directly impacts that beauty supply store.
“When we talk about gentrification and displacement, we’re not just talking about businesses. … We’re talking about faith institutions, we’re talking about our schools,” he added. “Most of our public school students in Inglewood belong to households that rent, so we’re talking about the fabric of our community, they’re all directly related.
“We think it’s a shame that there’s no women on our city council. … These are things that need to change,” Curry concluded.