Some thoughts on rents going up in Highland Park

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The last few weeks have seen a ton of interest / debate / protest about the rapid gentrification of Highland Park.

We have been receiving media inquiries and I thought I’d take the time to share my thoughts here.

We have learned a lot, both from our day-to-day business and also the reaction to our agent’s bike tour in Boyle Heights, about the human impact of gentrification, in general, and our business model, in particular.

We understand that losing one’s home is scary and painful. And we know that, even if you’re not losing your home, seeing your neighborhood change rapidly around you can be disorienting, at a minimum.

That said, having considered the issues carefully, we come down on the side of those who believe that housing ought to be subject to the free market, just like most other things we consume. So, we will continue to conduct our business in a way which is lawful (of course) and also respectful of the feelings of the people whose lives are affected.

We recognize that other people disagree and that’s fine; we’re glad we live in a country where those disagreements can be had in a peaceful, civil manner.

Finally, some unsolicited advice for people who are concerned about the prospect of losing their homes (in Highland Park or anywhere else):

  1. If you rent, you should immediately determine whether you are protected by LA’s Rent Stabilization Ordinance. In general, buildings with two or more units built prior to 1978 are protected and those built after are not. To find out whether your building is protected, either look it up on zimas.lacity.org or ask the Housing Department;
  2. If your building is covered by the RSO, you are in reasonably good shape. There are circumstances in which you can be forced to move, but those circumstances are pretty rare and you would be entitled to a large payment (somewhere between $9-19,000, depending upon your age, income, etc.). You may also be able to negotiate for more, depending on your specific circumstances. If you need help understanding your rights, you can always call the Housing Department.
  3. If your building is not covered by the RSO (which many in Highland Park are not), you should strongly consider moving to one that is. I know moving is painful and expensive, but, as a tenant in a non-rent control building, particularly if your original lease has expired, you are in danger! The owner of your building can require you to move out in 60 days and there is not much you can do.
  4. If you have decent credit, an on-the-books job, and have (or can get from family) as little as $15,000, you should strongly consider purchasing your own home or small apartment building. There is a government program called FHA through which the federal government can help you buy with as little as 3.5% down. You may not be able to afford to buy in Highland Park, but, if not, you should consider doing so in other, more affordable neighborhoods close by.

We hope that everyone will accept the above information / advice in the helpful spirit in which it is intended.

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