Over 100 community members and organizers took to the streets on Saturday, June 30, to raise awareness of a housing crisis which has already rendered many Sherman Heights and Logan Heights families homeless.
People of all ages carried boldly painted cardboard signs and shouted slogans like "The barrio united will never be divided," along the mile-long march, which began and ended at the Sherman Heights Community Center on Island Avenue and 22nd Street.
Although rising rents are a problem throughout the city, residents in these areas have been facing a severe housing shortage since 1998, when the advent of the proposed ballpark paved the way for out-of-control real estate speculation in these communities. This situation has caused rents to skyrocket in what was once one of the most affordable places for the working poor to live.
In many cases, residents have faced rent increases of up to 100 percent within a time frame of 60 days or less. Some residents have discovered that it takes the earning power of two or three families to pay the new rents on single family homes and apartments.
The event was sponsored by Developing Unity through Resident Organizing (D.U.R.O.), a coalition of area families, housing advocates and students who have been actively meeting since May 12 of this year. Members are asking for "Development without Displacement" in these communities.
Rene Guzman, a resident of Sherman Heights and D.U.R.O. Co-chair: "What we want to do is immediately address both the long and short-term negative ramifications of the current ballpark redevelopment plan. We want to be sure that our voices and concerns will be part of the public dialogue surrounding these issues. Up to now, we have largely been excluded from this process."
Chris Wilson, long-time resident of Logan Heights: "The African-American community also has a stake in these neighborhoods. My family has lived in Logan Heights for nearly 70 years. They tried to destroy this community 40 years ago by putting a freeway through the heart of it. We were not organized then, but now we will fight for our rights as a community to stay together. For many of us, this is about more than a place to live. These neighborhoods represent our cultures, and a historic place in this city."