The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors unanimously approved a women’s homeless shelter for Sylmar on Tuesday — the same community in northern L.A. County where the city of L.A. may build a homeless/affordable housing project. It makes one wonder if county and city politicians have cooked up a plan to push the homeless far away from the luxury-housing skyscrapers popping up all over downtown L.A.
We noted the other day that the majority of L.A.’s tallest luxury-housing towers are located in, or proposed for, downtown, which is Los Angeles’ most gentrified neighborhood, according to the city’s Index of Neighborhood Change. But Skid Row, in downtown, continues to be a destination for the homeless, who seek shelter and services there. With developers and global investors pumping billions into downtown, the homeless are most definitely not welcomed.
So it seems more than a coincidence that L.A. County supervisors picked the Sylmar National Guard Armory for a year-round women’s homeless shelter while the L.A. City Council approved, just a few months ago, an affordable/homeless housing site that’s also slated for Sylmar. In fact, the two projects are only two miles apart — and are nearly 30 miles from downtown.
In April, the City Council gave the Housing and Community Investment Department the go-ahead to enter into negotiations with L.A. Family Housing, a homeless services provider, and Many Mansions, an affordable housing developer, to build a housing project at 11681 W. Foothill Boulevard. It’s across the street from the Hansen Dam Recreation Center.
The location of that project is one of several city-owned properties that’s part of a citywide program known as “Affordable Housing Opportunity Sites” (AHOS). Constantly promoted as a “homeless housing” program by City Hall politicians and the Los Angeles Times, the AHOS has been scandalously changed to include market-rate and affordable housing.
The city’s Sylmar site, though, appears to be primarily geared for the homeless. L.A. Family Housing, according to its website, “has become one of the largest comprehensive real estate developers and homeless service providers in Los Angeles and a regional leader providing solutions to end homelessness.”
More homeless housing is desperately needed in L.A., but what’s happening in Sylmar goes to a larger trend that community activists have been vocal about. They say that gentrification in downtown and other neighborhoods is forcing the poor and working-class out of their longtime neighborhoods to such far away places as the Inland Empire and Antelope Valley. Have L.A. politicians added Sylmar to that list?
Mayor Eric Garcetti and the City Council have been taking increasing heat for pursuing what many community activists believe is an aggressive, pro-gentrification agenda, which is fueling rising rents, record-high evictions and out-of-control homelessness.
With the City Council and Garcetti regularly approving luxury-housing projects across L.A., gentrification has been slamming longtime, working- and middle-class residents in downtown, Westlake, Pico Union, Silver Lake, Echo Park, Hollywood, Chinatown, Venice, East Hollywood and North Hollywood, according to the L.A. Index of Neighborhood Change.
Recently, activists, citing the threat of even more gentrification, held a street protest against a proposed luxury-housing tower for downtown that the Garcetti-appointed Planning Commission approved.
This summer, Crenshaw Subway Coalition executive director Damien Goodmon warned the Planning Commission that City Hall is unleashing a “gentrification tsunami” in South L.A.
In late 2016, hundreds of Historic South-Central residents showed up at City Hall to denounce gentrification and loudly oppose a luxury-housing mega-project known as The Reef that’s proposed for their working-class neighborhood. The City Council and Garcetti approved the $1-billion upscale development.
And, of course, there have been numerous anti-gentrification protests in Boyle Heights, where activists have made national news.
The common theme often heard among all of them? They don’t want L.A. politicians and developers to force them to move.
Above photo: Mike Mozart/Creative Commons