L.A. Homeless Activists Protest Plan to Build Homes: ‘Gentrification’

Skid Row Los Angeles (Ari Perilstein / Getty for Chemical X)
Ari Perilstein / Getty for Chemical X

Homeless activists are protesting a new plan to build homes in the area of downtown Los Angeles known as “Skid Row” because they claim it would amount to “gentrification.”

There are 4,000 homeless people living on Skid Row, some 2,700 outdoors, the Los Angeles Times noted Tuesday. The crime-ridden area is also an eyesore downtown — as well as a health hazard, with L.A. reeling from an outbreak of typhus. The city has nearly 60,000 homeless overall.

The Times reported:

The coalition, which also includes Los Angeles Catholic Worker, Inner City Law Center and the health group United Coalition East, is protesting a city plan that would rezone parts of skid row, plus the adjoining downtown fashion and arts districts, from warehouse and industrial uses to residential.

The plan, which must clear several hurdles before going before the L.A.City Council for approval next year, would limit development in the heart of the 50-block area, which is now lined with tent cities, to housing that’s affordable for people who earn $10,000 to $58,000 a year. But the newly permitted housing in the outer rings of skid row could be market-rate. Under a new “community benefits program,” developers would be allowed to put up bigger buildings if they included units for poor people or added parks, public squares or other amenities.

Residents fear that they would be pushed out of the downtown area and moved eastward, the Times adds.

Los Angeles and San Francisco are both suffering from surging numbers of homeless residents.

Mayor Eric Garcetti came to office promising to eliminate homelessness, but the problem has only become worse since he took office in 2013. The crisis has been driven by a variety of factors — chiefly, the attraction of generous benefits and warmer weather, but also high housing costs, illegal immigration, the opioid epidemic, exploitation of state health programs by drug rehabilitation centers, and other factors.

President Donald Trump has criticized Garcetti and California Gov. Gavin Newsom for failing to address the problem, suggesting federal intervention.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He earned an A.B. in Social Studies and Environmental Science and Public Policy from Harvard. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.


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