Los Angeles Tenants Union: Stop gentrifying Los Angeles!
Danny Estrada/People's World

LOS ANGELES—On Sunday, Oct. 1, the Los Angeles Tenants Union (LATU) and its eastside local, the Union de Vecinos (UDV), held a rally at Hollenbeck Park in Boyle Heights in the name of tenants and the right to housing for all.

The neighborhood is notably one of the last strong-standing enclaves of Latin and Chicano culture in Los Angeles and has battled with a sharp rise in gentrification over recent years as community members have been slowly pushed out by ever-increasing rents and costs of living.

Tensions between community members and real estate developers have been on open display in Boyle Heights and East L.A. for years, but they’ve heightened again over the summer since the Tiao Corporation announced plans to develop an unaffordable market-rate housing complex on the corner of Cesar Chavez and Chicago, in a historic area of Boyle Heights.

Danny Estrada / People’s World

At the time of Tiao’s announcement in June, community members made their objections known in droves at the Boyle Heights Neighborhood Council (BHNC) meeting, where they cited concerns that the development, which would only set aside five “affordable” units out of the 50 units it proposes, would simply invite further gentrification of the predominantly working-class neighborhood and push tenants out.

Opponents found the number especially egregious because residents in Boyle Heights have historically suffered some of the worst housing discrimination in Los Angeles.

The organizers first rallied at Hollenbeck Park and then marched up to Councilmember Kevin de Leon’s office and the Boyle Heights City Hall, planning to rally there before marching further to Cesar Chavez Avenue.

Thousands of renters, community members, and activists, according to local media, gathered for a peaceful demonstration of community solidarity in the face of the worsening economic dynamics of the city, particularly the untenable rise of rents that have forced so many in and around the neighborhood to leave their homes, and the gentrification that often prevents them from returning.

The demands of the community, LATU, and UDV were simple:

  1. Stop all evictions.
  2. Stop all rent increases.
  3. Stop all demolitions.
  4. Stop all reductions of services and new charges.
  5. Safe and sanitary housing.
  6. We want to live in peace.
  7. We want to live in good conditions.
  8. Enforcement of our rights.
  9. Accommodations for disabled and elderly people.
  10. Respect.

The tenants and community members planned to officially deliver these demands in front of de Leon’s office. Unfortunately, officers from the Los Angeles Police Department’s (LAPD) Hollenbeck Division were unable to deal with the assembly of tenants peacefully.

At just after 11, as the march reached Boyle Heights City Hall, the office of Kevin de Leon, and speeches were given to the crowd of tenants out front, around a dozen LAPD officers suddenly attacked the peaceful rally and attempted to arrest attendees mid-speech. After a swift and resilient community response to the brutality on display, the police retreated back into LAPD’s Hollenbeck Station.

Danny Estrada / People’s World

The organizers then led the march up to Cesar Chavez Ave., where they held another portion of the rally, still chanting the demands of the tenants and community, before marching down the historic strip of the neighborhood, where they passed the site of the six-story development proposed by the Tiao Corporation, which is currently occupied by community-owned businesses, and which residents have started a petition against.

As the march made its way through, many members of the community came out to support the march, some sounding noisemakers off their balconies to the marchers below in solidarity. Members of UNITE HERE Local 11 are currently on strike in the Los Angeles area, with housing issues part of their demands, showing affordability is an issue for the whole working class in the area.

The lack of city and county protections for residents being priced out and communities being gentrified is creating a larger problem. Now, several organizations—from labor unions to tenants unions—are taking up the struggle for good living conditions, an end to evictions, and respect.


Matthew Hunter
Matthew Hunter

Matthew Hunter is the secretary of the Southeast Los Angeles Club of the CPUSA. He produces the Trending Now! Network on YouTube.

Danny Estrada
Danny Estrada

Danny Estrada is a member of the Southeast Los Angeles Club.