Affordable Housing in a University Town

dfz march
Displacement Free Zone, 2003. Photo: Robin Doyno.

Earlier this year, we highlighted our work with Strategic Actions for a Just Economy, supporting campaigns to reform Los Angeles redevelopment policy to work for—rather than against—the interests of low-income residents, with the goals of securing affordable housing and living wage jobs. (see Spring 2004 projects). We are happy to report that SAJE’s Figueroa Corridor Coalition for Economic Justice has made great progress!

The Figueroa Corridor is a 40-block strip between USC and the Staples Center. USC is building a basketball arena here and the Coalition has tied the millions of development dollars being spent to the housing needs of the neighborhood. The University’s lack of student housing, combined with a Los Angeles housing crisis, puts students and working-class families in fierce competition, often leading to evictions of families by unscrupulous landlords seeking higher rents from students.

The Coalition has brought these issues to the forefront in numerous public hearings and in the press. As a result, a Student Community Housing Coalition has been established on campus and articles about housing have become a regular feature in USC’s Daily Trojan newspaper. USC is in negotiations with three private developers to build several thousand units of student housing, and it initiated legal action against a property management company that was using the University’s name and logo to promote activities that displace neighborhood families. The Coalition is engaging with USC administrators in a collaborative process to incorporate community services, and potentially family housing, into a USC-owned multi-acre commercial site adjacent to campus.