As further proof that Los Angeles County residents are struggling through a massive gentrification crisis, more than 800 people attended the Resist Gentrification Action Summit on December 2. For the first time in recent memory, nearly 50 organizations in Southern California banded together to hold the historic conference.
“Sixty percent of the room was black,” said Damien Goodmon, director of Housing Is A Human Right, “but the rest were brown and yellow coming together. If I’m a powerful person trying to gentrify the community, I’d be a little bit scared today.”
Housing Is A Human Right, the housing advocacy division of Los Angeles-based AIDS Healthcare Foundation, the world’s largest HIV/AIDS medical care provider, organized the summit at the Aububon Middle School in Leimert Park. Such groups as Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment – Los Angeles, Black Community Clergy & Labor Alliance, CDTech, Crenshaw Subway Coalition, Eviction Defense Network, Fannie Lou Hamer Institute, and Los Angeles Community Action Network were sponsors.
Like many cities in California, Los Angeles has been experiencing a widespread gentrification crisis, according to the city’s Index of Neighborhood Change. L.A. communities such as Downtown, Westlake, Venice, Hollywood, and North Hollywood are facing serious gentrification issues, with working- and middle-class residents forced out of their longtime neighborhoods.
Local and state politicians have yet to meaningfully address the crisis, which is fueling a three-way emergency of record-high evictions, skyrocketing rents, and record-breaking new homelessness.
The dire situation prompted Southern California activists to hold the Resist Gentrification Action Summit. It was the first step to organize and educate residents for upcoming battles to win better renters’ protections, to address California’s housing affordability crisis, and to counter greed-driven luxury development that’s devastating communities.
“Now, we’ve got to roll up our sleeves,” Goodman said. “We need to have our elected officials recognize that we value a different way. That we want to see improvement, but for us — that means the same neighbors — and we are willing to go to the ballot box to assert our rights be it rent control or repealing Costa-Hawkins [Rental Act] at the statewide level.”