Residents at a Chinatown apartment complex in Los Angeles are rallying against a 300% increase in rent.
As L.A.’s COVID-era eviction moratorium expired at the end of March, tenants at Hillside Villa marched to Mayor Karen Bass’s home on Friday to seek protection from the huge spike in rent and inundation of eviction notices.
During the march, protesters held red cloths, including one that read “Hillside Villa is our place. We will not be displaced.”
“We have three demands. One is to fire Ann Sewill, who is the head of the housing department, for her complete inaction and unwillingness to support working-class tenants in this city,” said Sunik Kim, an organizer with the tenants association, according to ABC7
. “Our second, clear update on the appraisal process of eminent domain for Hillside Villa. Third, is eminent domain now.”
According to advocates, 124 families residing in the apartment building, including those receiving Section 8 subsidies, are facing rent increases that they cannot afford.
“We don’t want to be homeless, and we want to stay there,” tenant Mary Ramos Monina said. “We are not asking to (live) free as a tenant, but we want to pay what we can afford. That’s all we ask.”
“We got five three-day notices last month alone,” tenant Alfredo Espinoza told KTLA. “As the tenants and families of Hillside Villa, we stayed the night in front of the mayor’s mansion, and we start day two out here to show that we are not going to let the city’s inaction put us on the streets.”
The tenants and their supporters are urging the city to buy the property in order to control rents.
They are requesting the Los Angeles Housing Department (LAHP) to follow through with their plan to make an offer on the building, which was first presented by L.A. Councilmember Gil Cedillo in February 2021.
However, no action has been taken by the LAHD as of date.
“Those are essentially evictions,” Kris Chan, a community organizer, told KTLA. “Our tenants cannot afford that, and they’ll be pushed to the streets.”
In response to the protests, Bass’s office released a statement that read:
Mayor Bass will always work to help Angelenos stay in their homes and this instance is no different – even though this situation involves a privately owned building that is not in the City’s control. Our office has met with residents, and in coordination with Councilmember Hernandez and the City Attorney, we are working on a solution.