Tag Archives: Dr. Robert Kent

Downtown Developments

When thinking about downtown Los Angeles, the Staples Center comes to mind, or maybe the numerous development projects happening right now. What may not come to mind is how the developments affect downtown’s homeless population, which is by far the biggest in the country.

The major changes occurring downtown include building enhancements, new modern-looking housing complexes, and more people.

But just how does the homeless population play in to the development in historic downtown L.A.? Since downtown streets have become a place for the homeless to live, any changes to those downtown streets affect where they will settle next.

A business collaborative task force called Home For Good is trying to resolve this issue in the city. Their focus is to “address homelessness by eliminating it,” said Jerry Neuman, an L.A. attorney and member of Home For Good’s Business Leaders Task Force.

Neuman said that eliminating homelessness would improve the business climate and create incentives for growth and expansion. He also said gentrification affects both the homeless and economic sector downtown. Gentrification is a shift in an urban community toward residents who are wealthier, as well as an increase in property values.

“The gentrification of downtown is having dramatic impacts on the accessibility of where homeless people have to live,” Neuman said. “If you think back about 12 years before the renaissance of downtown, we had about 70 percent affordability downtown, and that number is now reduced to about 30 percent affordability.”

Because of the many new housing developments, business has improved.

“Gentrification, I think, typically is a process,” said Dr. Robert Kent, Chair of CSUN’s Urban Studies and Planning Department. He said that gentrification can affect current downtown residents as well as the homeless.

“You get developers who will go in and rehab these buildings or tear them down and build buildings, build apartments and lofts, and these sort of things for people with the higher levels of income who work in the city and want to live close to the city,” Kent said. “And at the same time, many people who have been living in those buildings, paying relatively low rents, are displaced, have to move to other neighborhoods, or are simply forced out of their homes.”

Neuman said that when the development started in downtown L.A., it set a trend toward further development.

“The city created an adaptive re-use ordinance that allowed a lot of flexibility adapting old buildings into new residential buildings,” Neuman said. “And from that you saw a rush to create more housing downtown and create community development, you kind of have great infrastructure and people are starting to live there.”

Since new business is expanding downtown, Home For Good is working to help homeless people find a place to live without interrupting the new developments.

“What building should be preserved for the homeless, and what building should be part of the rebirth — that is discussed on  a daily basis,” Neuman said. “We keep trying to find opportunities where we can build better projects that permanently support those people who are homeless, and yet not get in the way of the progress that downtown is making.”

Moderator: Judith Retana

Anchor: Jamie Gonzaga

Reporters: Colin Newton, Nelssie Carillo, Hannah Townsley

Production Crew: Mahina Haina and Adam Schumes


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