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Mass Eviction of Black Tenants in LA Serves as a Reminder of the Ugliness of Gentrification

Source: Al Jazeera

Source: Al Jazeera

Anyone riding by the Los Angeles apartment complex at 1625 Crenshaw Boulevard over the weekend probably assumed the crowd of tenants were having a special celebration.

Neighbors who have long called the complex home came together to enjoy each other’s company over grilled hot dogs and hamburgers.

But at the heart of the cookout was the fact that it may be one of the last times they get to enjoy such a gathering. This cookout was no celebration. It was closer to being a form of protest after the new landlords decided they wanted to push out the low-income tenants in order to make room for wealthier ones.

Unfortunately, it’s not an uncommon ploy.

For years, disconcerting tactics have been used to get rid of Black tenants and homeowners in certain areas in order to move in wealthy, white residents. So when a wave of notices swept over the complex, alerting the residents that they had little time to find a new place to live, many residents were facing the reality that they could very well be facing homelessness.

According to the notices, the landlord is no longer willing to participate in Section 8 agreements and will begin terminating such leases.

“Landlord in good faith seeks to terminate your Section 8 lease/tenancy for economic reasons,” one resident’s notice read. “[This includes] difficulty in dealing with Section 8 requirements, paperwork, inspections and attempt to obtain rent increase, failure by Section 8 agents in returning phone calls and constant waste of time to obtain information. You are further notified that it is the purpose and intent of this notice to terminate tenancy at the end of said 90-day period.”

For one resident, an 82-year-old Korean War veteran, it’s a crushing blow.

“I just don’t know,” Floyd Harrelson told Al Jazeera. “I didn’t know life can be that hard after being in the Marine Corps for 10 years.”

But his service to his country isn’t what the landlords seem to be the most concerned about. In fact, many would argue that it isn’t even about any economic difficulties at all.

Instead, experts say, it’s about greed and discrimination.

“Basically, they’re trying to clear out poor people to try and get higher-income people in there to jack up the rent, and it’s purely about greed and profit, at the expense of these tenants, many of them who are elderly,” Larry Gross, the executive director of the Coalition for Economic Survival, a non profit that advocates for policies for low-income people in Los Angeles, told Al Jazeera. “This person is coming along and completely disrupting their ability to live out the rest of their years in the environment that they know, that they feel comfortable with, where they have friends and neighbors nearby, where they have services nearby.”

low income housingBut since the state of California offers very little legal protection for low-income tenants being bullied out of their apartments by greedy landlords, the residents are struggling to find other options.

One resident felt offended after being offered $4,000 noting that such a small amount wouldn’t actually cover all of his moving expenses and the payments necessary to reserve a unit at another complex.

Perhaps even more unsettling, however, is that the complex has decided to evict tenants that weren’t under an affordable housing program. It suggests that the mass eviction is indeed about race rather than about money.

“I’m not under Section 8, so if that was your issue, that’s not the issue for me,” 36-year-old Rashida Thomas told Al Jazeera. “I’m not a senior. I’m not a veteran. I’m not disabled. I’m not any of these things that you don’t want to deal with that would make me not the ideal tenant, except that I’m Black.”

With such racially motivated evictions becoming more common in the LA area, tenants are even seeing the return of segregation in neighborhoods that were at one point extremely diverse.

“Just because it’s legal doesn’t make it right,” Leilani Sashae, one resident who has stepped forward to lead the tenants in their fight against the landlords, told Al Jazeera about the discrimination facing the Black community in the area. “They’re saying, ‘We don’t think you’re valuable. You don’t exist. You’re nothing to us. This is about money. We’re just here to make our money, and we couldn’t care less about you and where you go.’”

What people are saying

17 thoughts on “Mass Eviction of Black Tenants in LA Serves as a Reminder of the Ugliness of Gentrification

  1. it is all about money and profit which is why we need to be on reservations like the indians. we cannot live with them because our needs will always take a back seat to theirs. they pay white people the money they need to live and pay the high rents. in most cases, they do not pay us the same salaries. the system is rigged against us. this is how dirty capitalism works.

  2. Jane Alala says:

    Sad that black people continue to suffer be it in America, England, Africa…however we shall not be cowed….still we RISE.

  3. Louise Jones says:

    Good 'ol L A, I know it well, lived there for over three decades. Retired from Northrop Grumman , Gardena CA ; Moved eight times the first year and a half I was in L A, Discovered SGI-USA, while there, Worked in the travel industry too, you just keep on pushing. It's expensive to live there…

  4. Louise Jones says:

    You get what you get when you get it! Opportunities are there for you, you have to NEVER GIVE UP, Be an optimist not a pessimist.

  5. Louise Jones says:

    No one said life would be a bowl of cherries, you have to work hard and the rewards will come. just believe in yourself.

  6. Same thing happening in Riverside COUNTY,California, Rent has almost tripled,making it hard for honest hard working people of all races!

  7. Eddie Ziv says:

    Gee, race has nothing to do with the issue. Crenshaw is predominantly Black, so the tenants happened to be Black. This is about section 8 and the hoops landlords have to jump through to accommodate it. The race of the tenant is irrelevant.

  8. Lisa Jackson says:

    Reparations should be the push for black people right now. Not just financial reparations but "LAND" so we can build our own home. Blacks never got a chance to participate in the homestead act 1862, they dragged us to this country to be slaves and now they just want to toss black people out of society. The only way they can get away with it is if we allow them.

  9. Didn't a tenant in the article say that SHE isn't on Section 8 but she's still getting evicted along with the rest? People (or should I say TROLLS) always coming on BLACK SITES with their garbage ass agendas.

  10. It's gentrification & it's going on ALL OVER THE COUNTRY in predominantly black areas. If it looks like racism, smells like it and follows the usual pattern that black people have seen a zillion times, then it's RACISM. Call it what it IS. It's a pattern happening all over this country.

  11. Eddie Ziv says:

    And what agenda is that? This was a business decision, not a racial decision.

  12. We could build a better country. Come Oct. We want a seperate state, away from you

  13. Jo Clay says:

    I don't know his motive, but I do know that everything he said about the Section 8 program, “[This includes] difficulty in dealing with Section 8 requirements, paperwork, inspections and attempt to obtain rent increase, failure by Section 8 agents in returning phone calls and constant waste of time to obtain information." is true. One inspector was so outrageous in his requirements that I named him *the inspector from hell.* It took 8 months to get a 3% rent increase approved. I can count on part of a hand the number of times someone has answered the phone during the years that I've been involved… not to mention the unprofessional manner in which they respond if/when they return the call. The total atmosphere points toward pushing property owners out of the program rather than encouraging them to participate. Believe me, dealing with the Section 8 Program is no walk in the park. Why do I continue? I feel a bit of responsibility to provide affordable housing and possibly make a difference in the life of, in particular, a veteran, even though I'm in an area where I could very easily demand much higher rent than allowed by the program. Also, I have great tenants!

  14. African Americans are scared they love they massa too much.

  15. The Amerikkkan Black race spends more many than any other race in the world; We need to come together and build our own communities.

  16. Eddie Ziv Do you WORK for/with him? And again, there is a TENANT ie someone who LIVES there, who said she isn't on section 8 and isn't receiving govt assistance and yet SHE IS STILL BEING EVICTED along with the others. It's gentrification. Just like in Detroit, just like in NYC, just like in DC..this is going on all over the country in predominantly black areas; so why trolls want to come in..I don't know why I'm wasting my time..paid trolls are just that..paid. THEY don't even believe the garbage they write. Just want to get us riled up. The art of war–psy ops. The funny thing is: instead of refuting what most of us KNOW about you after centuries of up close and personal contact –all your presence does is confirm the truth you THINK you are obsfuscating. Dumb as hell.

  17. Section 8 is another program in L.A. where the system doesn't respect the owners… or the tenants. But the owners are not part of the system…. just have to answer to it… if you take their tenants….. We had one real success story… two or three more good tenants,… and too any to count problematic section 8 tenants in our family owned,… black business… the tenants believe they are entitled to your property once their in,… many severely damage your property once they decide… or are forced to.move. lots of stay at home weed heads,….. poor parenting,… and disrespect toward the property and the owners in general,..
    ESPECIALLY IF THEY ARE BLACK ALSO. Right now.we had to cancel.the last section 8 we considered due to a frivolous move in re-inspection,… which we passed,.
    .then the information sat on the workers desk for two weeks for no apparent reason,… which cost our business 50 dollars a day. Who has time for that state program bureaucracy??? I tell who doesn't ….our bank accounts… nor our mortgages…. I'm sorry Mr section 8 but you can keep your program and all the wonderful people that come with it on the top and on the bottom.

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