Flower Street residents continue to fight for affordable housing

Listen to an audio story from Annenberg Radio News

imageAt the intersection of 30th and Flower Street there is a McDonald’s, a used tire center, and an old motel. The hum of the 110 freeway and the Expo line are constantly in the background.

The neighborhood may not look particularly fancy now, but to developers, this area between Downtown and USC has big appeal. Residents of the apartment building at 2913 Flower Street found that out last fall when developers started asking if they would be willing to move out.

“The developer was just offering them the standard relocation and he said the company would be willing to pay a little bit above the standard relocation,” said Thelmy Perez, an organizer with the LA Human Right to Housing Collective.

A few weeks ago, she and the residents of the building sat down with Symphony Developers, a company that owns a USC student housing building on 27th and was interested in expanding more.

Nohemi Armendariz has lived with her family in the Flower Street building for 15 years.

Her message to developers was, “We are happy at this place. We don’t want to move because it is not fair that they want to make the apartment only for the students. That is not fair. We have lived here for a long time.”

Symphony Developers did not wish to comment, but told ARN that they are no longer pursuing the Flower Street building.

But Perez said, “This issue is much larger than just this one building.”

imageThat’s why she and the building’s residents sought the support of one of their most influential neighbors. City Councilwoman Jan Perry’s office for her now-dormant mayoral campaign was just a few doors down from the apartment. 

“There is plenty of opportunity of non residential empty commercial buildings that could be acquired,” said Perry.

Perry came out to support the building’s residents at a news conference on Thursday. She will end her term on City Council in June and says her successor will have to pay attention to affordable housing.

“That person will have to protect the interests of people like the ones who live in this building,” she said.

It will also be up to the next mayor to protect rent stabilization in Los Angeles. Perez says as the mayor’s race continues, she hopes affordable housing will become a debate issue.

”None of the candidates, at least for mayor, have a plan for housing,” Perez said. “We are in dire need of affordable housing in the city of Los Angeles and we can’t afford to lose any more rent stabilized affordable units in this city.”

Residents of the 33-unit Flower Street building pay between $700 and $800 a month for small studio apartments. If forced to move, Perez said many would have to leave the neighborhood to find comparable rent prices. That’s why, as election season continues in Los Angeles, they’ll look for candidates who will help them stay in their community.