Sunday, July 24, 2005

 

Keeping them poor

Ever been face-to-face with people who would trade your life for a cheeseburger? I have, and the last thing I care about is finding a nice place for them to live.


If I've said it once, I've said it a million times: The crime rate in Los Angeles isn't only a matter of complete losers who turn to gangs because they're too stupid to do anything else, it's also has a lot to do with people who don't want to work based on laziness alone. These people who don't want to work, or ruin their own lives by having eight kids by age 29, looking to Section 8 and various other forms of government assistance to pic up their slack, have absolutely no desire to make themselves or their communities a better place to live. Here's a great
example of that.

In a hulking, tattered apartment building on Mott Street in Boyle Heights, four families share one bathroom and one stove.

It is a lifestyle without dignity, said Guadalupe Lopez, whose family — nine in all — squeezes their beds, clothes, television and other belongings into two rooms on the second floor.

"We are people, human beings," she said. "To have to live like this is unbearable."

A nanny by day, Lopez, 46, is a housing advocate at night, chanting "El pueblo unido jamás será vencido!" (The people united will never be defeated) at community meetings demanding better housing for the working poor.

Boyle Heights, a densely populated neighborhood east of downtown Los Angeles, is changing; developments are going up and millions of dollars in government subsidies are poised to pour in.

Among plans for the area, a Santa Monica-based developer is finalizing drawings for a $300-million project of upscale condominiums and retail outlets at the landmark Sears building. If the project comes to fruition, affluence will gain a toehold in a community where the median household income is $24,821 and unemployment is 14%.

Some residents, including Lopez, wonder whether the project will make enough room for those who can't afford high rents or mortgages.

A coalition of community groups, made up of the East L.A. Community Corp., Union de Vecinos and Homeboy Industries, has galvanized a contingent of low-income residents — gardeners, maids, nannies, housewives and some small-business owners — urging them to speak up for affordable housing before it's too late.

Their plea is part of a citywide movement for zoning that would require developers to set aside units affordable to a family making below the area's median income.
This is one of these times in life where I wonder if what I'm reading is actually something that is being proposed and taken seriously. Anyone outside of Los Angeles will have a hard time relating to this post, but these are the facts of the matter. East Los Angeles was once a nice part of LA, which you would have a hard time believing if you drove through it right now. In fact, I would dare most readers of this blog who aren't in law enforcement to drive though East Los Angeles with your windows down, absorbing the scenery. Since the late 50's (the 1950's, for our younger readers), East LA has been overrun with Hispanic gangs and gangsters. Drugs, mostly in the form of marijuana, moved into the community around the same time, at which point a police presence (via LASD Region 1, East LA Division, and LAPD's Hollenbeck station) helped the quash the violence that came with the combination of a sale of drugs and increasing poverty.

For a community to "plea" for developers not to come in and develop nicer forms of housing, which in turn would get rid of the gang members who could no long afford to live there, I don't even know where to start. My first question to these community members would be to ask why they do not want for their own community to be a safer place, especially considering it will not cost them a penny out of pocket. I remember at one point in time when it was a routine, daily occurance for various police agencies to assign witness relocation teams to people in the community who dropped the dime on gangsters. Something like that would be stressful, at least until the point that the perpetrator went to jail, but if a form of Darwinism took effect, and the members of the community worried less about gang members because the gangsters couldn't survive in that community any longer, how could that not be a good thing? The answer is that it would be a great thing to force them out of the community.

In part, I blame the Los Angeles Times for issuing a victimhood-mentality pass to these people. Instead of reporting about how the community of Boyle Heights could be on its way back to how it was 60-plus years ago, they highlight the ire of the people who destroyed the community.

* The picture at the top of the page is of an LASD Gang Detail performing a traffic stop on Hispanic gang members in Boyle Heights, East Los Angeles, era-1993. The photo was taken by Joe Rodriguez of Zone Zero.

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