WHEN: SATURDAY, MARCH 20, 2021 10 AM
WHERE: VIA MARISOL BETWEEN MONTEREY ROAD & VIA MIA
WHO: UNITED CALTRANS TENANTS, RECLAIMING OUR HOMES, & RECLAIM AND REBUILD OUR COMMUNITY
Tenants in the Caltrans-owned homes and their community in El Sereno have been speaking out against SB-51 and its predecessor SB-9 from the moment these bills from Senator Durazo were made public. SB-51 has been touted by Senator Durazo as an “affordable housing” bill. El Sereno is gathering to protest SB-51 on Saturday and emphasizing the lack of communication the Senator has had with the community, despite her claims of community participation. Of the members of United Caltrans Tenants, who stand to be most impacted by the SB-51’s impact, not one was contacted or spoken to during the creating or since the announcement of this Bill. SB-51 is discriminatory and priming a neighborhood already ravaged by Caltrans’ mismanagement to be further harmed. Lisa Almeida, a 40+ year tenant stated that “people were mined for information but no one was consulted.” Since Senator Durazo has still not consulted with the community or shown any concern for the concerns vocalized, United Caltrans Tenants have teamed up with South Pasadena Tenants Union, Northeast Local Tenants Union, Reclaiming Our Homes (ROH) and Reclaim and Rebuild Our Community (RROC) to protest in a COVID-19-safe manner, by protesting in a caravan.
Central point of SB51 opposition: SB51 is structured in a way that encourages outside agencies to purchase the houses at the price Caltrans paid 55+ years ago in exchange for a commitment of affordable housing for 55 years. SB-51 eliminates tenant-lead co-ops only in El Sereno, discriminating against the area. In its current form, SB-51 encourages outside agencies to purchase these houses while the community solutions (El Sereno Community Land Trust) that intended on purchasing these houses and renting them at an affordable rate indefinitely are forced out.
If SB-51 passes, 90-100 Caltrans Tenants could be displaced because they couldn’t afford to purchase their homes but earn too much to rent at the official affordable rental rate. The existing Bill, the Roberti Bill, encourages ownership, but SB-51 does not. Senator Durazo’s SB-51 establishes rental options for those under 120% of the average area median income, displacing families that fall through the cracks one again.
Why is 55 years an unacceptable timeframe? It was about 55 years ago that Caltrans purchased these homes, meaning they have had nearly six decades of gross mismanagement. Community organizations have housing experts in place and prepared to make these homes permanent affordable housing by way of tenant-lead co-ops. This is a model that has proven to make vast improvements in communities, especially when compared to the ineffective options that programs like HACLA and PATH have continued to run.