Archive for LA human right to housing collective

HUD Rejects Los Angeles Housing Authority’s $30 Million Grant Application

Posted in Media Advisory, press release with tags , , on March 21, 2014 by Cangress

via the LA Human Right to Housing Collective and the National Economic & Social Rights Initiative.

HOUSING AND ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE ADVOCATES CALL ON HACLA TO USE THE TIME CREATED BY HUD’S REJECTION OF $30 MILLION GRANT APPLICATION FOR JORDAN DOWNS TO FULLY MITIGATE TOXINS

The granting of redevelopment funds would have created a fast-track timeline that, in all likelihood, would have led to HACLA failing to fulfill its responsibilities to protect residents from the health impacts of toxins.  

March 18, 2014, Los Angeles – The LA City Housing Authority’s billion dollar plan to convert the 700 unit Jordan Downs public housing development in Watts into a “mixed income urban village” were stalled on Monday when the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) announced that the Choice Neighborhoods Initiative (CNI ) grant application for Jordan Downs was unsuccessful.

Last week, at a community meeting on the redevelopment, HACLA environmental advisor, Matt Rhoda, told the packed auditorium that no one needed to worry about lead in their community.  Some residents expressed frustration that HACLA continues to refuse to test the soil and groundwater under their homes – something several hundred residents requested via petition – and were concerned that had this CNI grant been awarded, a full testing for toxins and subsequent clean-up might have been sacrificed to meet the strict project timeline. Residents also expressed feeling intimidated due to an onslaught of legal notices and aggressive evictions served on residents – which may affect their good-standing and ability to access the new units.  Although, the removal of residents and the refusal to test for toxins have always been unacceptable, the  denial of the CNI application affords HACLA the opportunity to immediately engage in area-wide groundwater and soil sampling, create a comprehensive clean-up plan and support residents in maintaining their housing stability.

Jordan Downs’ resident and single mother, Ely Acevedo has been organizing with other concerned mothers and residents to hold HACLA accountable for securing the health of current residents, who are expected to stay on site during the redevelopment of the neighborhood. Ely said, “They are playing with our health and the health of all the small children that live here. How dare they tell us that we shouldn’t be worried about lead in our neighborhood?”

HACLA’s own studies confirm levels exceeding 6,000ppm of lead at the vacant Factory site inside Jordan Downs. 80ppm is the state of CA standard. Earlier this month, Thelmy Perez, of the LA Human Right to Housing Collective, testified before the County Board of Supervisors: “We cannot comprehend how or why state, county and local officials can make such a fuss over the Exide contamination and ignore Jordan Downs, where there the same toxins have been found. All of our communities – especially where the majority of residents are children and people of color with little resources and the lowest life expectancy in the state – have the right to their health and to a high level of accountability from government when their health is in jeopardy.”

The Housing Collective members and allies at the Center for Public Environmental Oversight, Legal Aid Foundation of LA, Natural Resources Defense Council, Physicians for Social Responsibility-LA and National Economic and Social Rights Initiative believe HUD’s decision provides HACLA with an immediate opportunity to ensure an adequate and comprehensive environmental testing and clean up is conducted, which fully protects the community’s health. The CNI program is ongoing and another application could be submitted after all environmental health and other community concerns are addressed. While HUD has chosen not to give a CNI grant to HACLA, the Watts community is entitled to adequate federal funding to secure their human right to housing, without it needing to be contingent on  redevelopment. CNI is not the panacea, there are many federal funding opportunities, including from the Environmental Protection Agency, which should be actively sought by our local officials in an effort to uplift and preserve the cultural richness of Watts and its residents.  After decades of neglect, it’s time to invest in the people of Watts.

STOP TREATING US LIKE TRASH! Public Housing Residents Present HACLA with Over 1,000 Postcards Demanding an End to Unjust Trash Fees

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on December 4, 2012 by Cangress

On March 21st, 2012, LA Human Right to Housing Collective members, representing 8 of the City’s 14 public housing developments, filed suit against the Housing Authority for refusing to reimburse them for years of unjust trash fees. Under federal regulations, the residents should receive a rent credit for the fees.  The suit is currently in mediation.

Lucia Postcards

That is why on November 29th, the Collective’s Public Housing Committee’s members arrived at a packed Housing Authority Board of Commissioners Meeting to make clear that although the legal process is moving at a snail’s pace, the residents are not sitting idly by but are instead taking advantage of the extra time to engage their neighbors in the campaign to end the trash fees.  By going door to door in their neighborhoods, Collective members obtained over 1,000 postcards and an equal amount of momentum for the campaign within several short weeks.  “We respect your rules, and our neighbors, we expect you to respect our rights” testified Francisco Estrada before the commission as his Pueblo del Rio neighbor Lucia Sanchez held the stack of postcards high and proud. “The real power in our presence is with the 1,000 more residents who stand with us today,” said Lucia.

Postcards Jpeg

While we await the outcome of the lawsuit, the Collective will continue to engage more residents and allies.  Next week we will be at City Hall, presenting the Mayor and the Council with the postcards and asking for their support in bringing an end to the trash fees.

WE SHALL NOT BE MOVED!

Posted in human & civil rights, press coverage, Uncategorized with tags , , , , on November 8, 2012 by Cangress

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November 8, 2012

AN OPEN LETTER FROM THE RESIDENTS OF 2913 SOUTH FLOWER STREET

Dear Developers, City Officials and Members of the General Public,

This letter is meant to express one simple intention: we will not leave our community without a fight.

We are the residents of the neighborhood known as “University Park” and the building located at 2913 South Flower Street. What we would like for you to know about us is that we know what it is to be a community. With the length of time that we have lived in this building, between 15 and 35 years, we have managed to create friendship, security and trust amongst ourselves. Amongst us, we are never without a safe place to leave our children in time of emergency or a pair of hands that are ready to help. Among our children, we notice that the community which we have created together offers them more than just a sense of security but also healthy social development that includes mutual respect, companionship, and a strong self-esteem. Moreover, among the young students who, several years ago, began living among us, we see a good example for our children. We are part of the neighborhood and the neighborhood is a part of us. Everything we need is within a short distance: work, schools, and transportation. For these reasons we love our community and we will defend our right to live in it.

The changes and the development of the land are evident; our community is not the same as it was five years ago.  Today, what we see through our windows are new luxury buildings, a glorified train which will one day reach the sea, cranes and more cranes, little by little enveloping us. Recently, a group representing a local developer began knocking on our doors, offering us money to leave our homes. We recognize that the immense value that exists within these walls for us does not exist in the development plans of ICON, USC, Palmer, AEG, or even in the plans of the City. For this reason, we wish to make the following very clear: We demand people oriented development. We demand to be included in the development plans because WE WILL NOT BE MOVED.

In closing, we welcome development, and all the benefits that go with it- these benefits belong to us too- however, we do not welcome development that displaces families and destroys communities. We will not stand for it. We will defend our rights, our community, and our homes to the very end.  There is NO PRICE that is worth our stability – emotional, physical, economic and social. We repeat: WE WILL NOT BE BOUGHT.

Posted in press release, URGENT ACTION with tags , , , , on November 7, 2012 by Cangress

MEDIA ADVISORY 

TENANTS PROTEST SALE AND POSSIBLE DEMOLITION OF BUILDING NEXT TO METRO LINE:

RESIDENTS DEMAND PEOPLE-ORIENTED TRANSIT DEVELOPMENT THAT PROTECTS LOW INCOME HOUSING

WHAT: Press Conference:  Tenants protesting potential displacement to present an open letter to all potential building owners informing them that the tenants in the building, and surrounding community, will not be moved without a fight

DATE:  Thursday, November 8, 2012

TIME: 10:00 AM

LOCATION: 2913 S. Flower Street, Los Angeles 90007

 PARTICIPANTS: LA Human Right to Housing Collective and its members, other low income residents living in the Expo Line Transit Corridor, Los Angeles Community Action Network (LACAN), People Organized for Westside Renewal (POWER), Union de Vecinos, and ¡Comunidad Presente!

BACKGROUND:  Transit dependent residents living in the “University Park” neighborhoods of South Los Angeles have benefited from the long awaited Expo Line, receiving accessible transportation to Downtown Los Angeles and all its other connections.  However, low income families like the families living at 2913 S. Flower Street – a building directly in front of the newly constructed railway — are now constantly threatened with displacement due to land speculation and profiteering.  Big developers are aggressively trying to buy out the low income tenants to make way for market rate housing, high-end boutiques, restaurants and the like.

 The tenants living at 2913 S. Flower Street have fought for more than 15 years for their homes, withstanding the bulldozers, the noise, the rattling of trains and previous threats of displacement.  Today, as they stand to possibly benefit from the rewards of the transit development, their homes are threatened by speculators.   The very low-income residents who need public transit the most are the first to be pushed out of Transit Oriented Development (TOD) corridors in a county-wide trend to redevelop these newly “transit rich” areas.  Ironically, demolishing affordable housing along these corridors reduces the ridership of public transit.

 The residents of 2913 S. Flower Street are calling a press conference to announce a campaign to protect their homes, their community, and demand “people oriented” transit development along the Expo Line and all current and planned transportation corridors in Los Angeles.   Tenants have prepared an open letter to any potential new owner of their building to put them on notice that residents in this building, and this community, will not be moved without a fight.

VISUALS: Tenants and neighbors holding signs; Expo Line trains; Façade of 2913 S. Flower: a 33 unit Affordable Housing Building; Downtown Los Angeles Skyline; Local Families with Children

Spanish speakers and interpretation will be readily available.

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LA Human Right to Housing Collective Wins Rent Freeze for Public Housing Residents & Repeals Guest (and other) fees for Section 8 tenants!

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on September 28, 2012 by Cangress

In an unprecedented move on Thursday, September 27, the Housing Authority of the City of LA (HACLA) Board of Commissioners, led by Chair Mitch Kamin, voted unanimously to stand with the LA Right to Housing Collective declaring that HACLA staff had “no compelling rationale” to raise the flat rent on 414 public housing households by 3% for a 4th consecutive year.

As part of the Housing Authority’s annual Agency Plan process, HACLA is obligated to release several versions of it’s Agency Plan for the following year.  In the first draft version, released in June, the Collective noticed that the Agency had planned to raise flat rents, paid by over 400 families living in LA’s public housing communities, by another 3% for the fourth consecutive year.  While the revenue increase to HACLA of only $56,000 would do very little to affect the bottom line of the agency’s over $1 Billion annual budget, the consequences to the affected residents’ bottom lines would have been devastating with a rent burden increase of an additional $17-$39 per month.  Some residents are already paying $75 more per month since 2010 and the 2013 increase would have pushed them to $114 more per month as soon as next year.  In a public comment letter addressed to the HACLA Commission, the Collective denounced this unfair rent increase.

The Collective also took issue with several other policies outlined in the draft Agency Plan including proposed language that would have allowed Section 8 landlords to charge fees for guests and other things generally included in a non-Section 8 tenancy.

Do to the diligence of Collective’s Public Housing & Section 8 Residents in attending meetings and hearings and testifying at every step of the process, the HACLA 2013 Agency Plan will:

  1. Not include flat rent increases for 2013!
  2. Contain alternative language proposed by The Collective specifically prohibiting any kind of additional fees for Section 8 residents!

Although HACLA has already publicly stated that they will look into some of our other demands such studying how to increase parking within the public housing communities and how to increase tenant participation in important decisions, we will continue to organize for the recognition of the human right to housing.

Because Housing is a Human Right!

The LA Human Right to Housing Collective’s members include residents from 7 public housing communities as well as organizations including the Los Angeles Community Action Network (LACAN), People Organized for Westside Renewal (POWER), Union de Vecinos and with legal support from the Legal Aid Foundation of Los Angeles (LAFLA).

Please spread the word and visit our blog at lahumanrighttohousing.blogspot.com or email lahumanrighttohousing@gmail.com for more information or to join us.

Remembering Rampart, Remembering the Rebellion, Many Changes, Little Improvement

Posted in civic participation, civil rights, human & civil rights, LAPD, organizing with tags , , , , , , , on May 3, 2012 by Cangress

Written by Leonardo Vilchis and Becky Dennison, on behalf of the Los Angeles Human Right to Housing Collective (of which LA CAN is a member organization)

As so many reflected on the 1992 civil unrest last week, we heard stories of fundamental change in the LAPD and how conditions have changed so much within the City of LA since then. However, given the experiences in our communities in Downtown, South and East LA, we couldn’t disagree more. The fact that there have been changes does not mean that there have been improvements. Extreme poverty, lack of meaningful employment, a continuously growing housing and homelessness crisis, a deepening economic and social inequality, and continuing police abuse and racial profiling reflect the same conditions that spurred the uprising in 1992. At the same time we are still dealing with the self-righteous arrogance in LAPD that made Daryl Gates famous. Last week the Times reported that Chief Beck was giving only “conditional reprimands” to officers committing major violations, including unjustified police shootings (sound familiar?), causing discord among some Commissioners and the public. Yet, just one week later spurred by the 20-year anniversary, the same media outlets report on the supposed “changed” LAPD.

It is fitting, then, that the public meeting on the future of the Old Rampart Station also happened last week. The Old Rampart Station, a symbol of police abuse and arrogance, has been abandoned for the last 4 years and is a painful reminder of LAPD’s past that is worsened by the abandonment, neglect in and around the property, and a total disregard for the community that surrounds it. When the LA Human Right to Housing Collective chose the Old Rampart Station for its International Human Rights Day actions last December, it was selected as a symbolic representation of much that is wrong in the City of Los Angeles: the site of some of the worst and most pervasive police abuses in LA’s history; an abandoned and blighted City-owned property that could instead be used for human rights promoting purposes; the City’s budget priority of more than 50% of its budget going toward LAPD when housing, libraries, schools, parks, and other human rights programs are seeing devastating cuts; and the list could go on and on. The Housing Collective created a human rights camp that cold weekend in December to call attention to the abandonment and to demonstrate to the City and LAPD that this site should be used for community serving purposes. What is the city’s response? Rampart is planned to be the new headquarters for LAPD’s Metro Division, including SWAT.

There are two problems with the Metro/SWAT proposal. First, the community was unaware of these plans. There was no community input process in deciding what should happen at a space that holds such painful memories of crime and abuse. In fact, the LAPD representative at last week’s public meeting admitted there had been no community involvement, simply stating they weren’t required to do it. Second, what is the message sent by establishing a SWAT training ground in a community that was victimized and abused by the Police? The site will be turned into a militarized zone controlled by the police without providing any community services. The self-righteous arrogance of LAPD and the complicity of the city with its plans ignore the community’s needs and reaffirm the role of the police as an occupying force in Rampart. Certainly nothing has changed, and most definitely we see no improvement. The police plans and policies do not take into consideration community’s needs and desires.

Since January, local residents and other concerned Angelinos have been working to Reclaim Rampart – to ensure that community-serving purposes are included in any plans for the site and that the site is not solely used to house Metro Division, which will not serve the local community. Community members are also demanding transparency and more comprehensive public input as the City moves forward with its plans. The hearing was the first step, but much more work is needed by local residents, City Officials, and other concerned residents to be sure that LAPD is accountable to the community on this infamous site, and fully accountable to our communities across Los Angeles. That will be a change to welcome and a certain improvement for this community.

GIVE THE PEOPLE WHAT THEY WANT!: LA CAN 2011

Posted in art & culture, civil rights, DWAC & Women's Issues, housing victories, human & civil rights, LAPD, organizing, video with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 11, 2012 by Cangress

A video highlighting the various campaigns, actions, and achievements of LA CAN in 2011!

January/February 2012 Community Connection NOW AVAILABLE!

Posted in art & culture, civil rights, community connection, DWAC & Women's Issues, education, grassroots policy, health access, human & civil rights, organizing, photos with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 10, 2012 by Cangress

Click on the photo above to read the January/Februar 2012 Edition of the Community Connection
(or download a PDF version HERE).

November/ December 2011 Community Connection NOW AVAILABLE!

Posted in art & culture, civic participation, civil rights, community connection, education, food access, grassroots policy, health access, housing victories, human & civil rights, LAPD, legal, press coverage with tags , , , , , , on December 2, 2011 by Cangress

Click on the photo above to read the November/December 2011 Edition of the Community Connection
(or download a PDF version HERE).

September/October 2011 Community Connection NOW AVAILABLE!

Posted in art & culture, civil rights, community connection, DWAC & Women's Issues, grassroots policy, health access, human & civil rights, LAPD, organizing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 3, 2011 by Cangress

Click on the photo above to read the September/October 2011 Edition of the Community Connection (or download a PDF version HERE).