Los Angeles, CA - Marching and chanting, “Vecinos unidos, jamas seran vencidos!” (Neighbors, united, will never be defeated), over 50 community members, families and activists gathered outside of five Boyle Heights homes, Sept. 9, to fight back against displacement and gentrification. Boyle Heights families have been suffering displacement and evictions for many years. The community is also surrounded by freeways, rail yards and factories which cause pollution.
These five buildings have been home to over 20 families, many of whom have lived here for decades. The 20 families also united to form their very own union as tenants; this union is called Primera Esperanza or First Hope, located in the heart of Boyle Heights off 1st and Soto Street – two of the busiest streets.
The enemy to the 20 families is the East Los Angeles Community Corporation (ELACC) – which has served tenants with a 120-day eviction notice. ELACC has stated they will be building affordable housing buildings where the five homes stand, and will move in over 60 families in the place of these 20 families. ELACC is dislocating existing families and removing rent control units from the community.
Not guaranteed for the Boyle Heights families is a future place to live. Not guaranteed is the same price of rent, which for these families amounts to $450 to $500 per month. The affordable rent is one of the many reasons why these families have stayed and lived here for over ten years. And not guaranteed for these families is a prime location to numerous market places, laundromats and the public Metro station - all of which are within walking distance.
“It doesn’t make a difference whether the company forcing us out of our homes is ELACC or a big corporation, we are still going to be left without a home,” said Terry Navarro. Navarro and her daughter, both of whom are disabled, have lived at Primera Esperanza for more than eight years. “Today we came out to demand that ELACC guarantee us, the 20 families, affordable housing, first right of return, and that we not get documented with challenging qualifications. We want to see all of these demands in writing!”
Present at the rally, and the lead organizers to support Primera Esperanza, was Union de Vecinos, supported by the Los Angeles Tenants Union, Centro CSO, and various community members and allies.
Elizabeth Blaney, an organizer with Union de Vecinos said, “We have already lost thousands of families to dislocation and gentrification, and it is time ELACC let these families stay.”
Future events are planned for Primera Esperanza and you can find more information here: https://www.facebook.com/uniondevecinos