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Nonprofit

TRUST South LA (Tenemos que Reclamar y Unidos Salvar la Tierra-South LA)

TRUST South LA works to establish community control over economic resources. We acquire land to be held collectively, and in perpetuity, by low-income community residents. Thus the land will never be subject to speculative real estate activities, industrial practices that compromise health, or slum housing practices. Use of the land will instead be directed by — and forever controlled by — low-income community residents, to meet the needs of their families and neighbors. Important achievements include: Maintained a formal, voting Membership of grassroots community residents to hold ultimate authority over organizational assets and decisions, and to elect a grassroots Board of Directors. With partners, raised $5 million in equity from private and public sources for land acquisition. With the City of LA, secured: $1 million for pedestrian improvements, in a high-traffic near an elementary school; and $5 million for development of a 4 acre park in LA’s most park-poor Council District. Led the Housing Working Group of United Neighbors in Defense Against Displacement (UNIDAD) Coalition Housing Working Group during the Lorenzo community benefits agreement and USC Specific Plan campaigns, which resulted in over $20 million in funding for affordable housing, 4000 new beds of student housing, and a tenants’ rights legal clinic at USC. With the City and non-profit developer Abode Communities, advanced plans to develop the 7 acre Slauson&Wall Brownfields site with a 4 acre park, community center, and 120 affordable homes — all designed by the community. Established a vibrant Slauson&Wall Neighbor’s Organizing Committee to move forward all planning, community engagement and campaign work related to this transformative project. Used Theatre of the Oppressed as a community education and advocacy tool, including utilizing street theatre to explain dynamics of gentrification around light rail. Organized a tenant-led campaign that resulted in the owners’ agreement to sell the 48 unit, 2 acre Rolland Curtis Gardens property adjacent to USC and the Expo line, rather than displacing families to convert to student housing; and conducted a participatory planning process to rebuild as a key Transit Oriented Development with affordable housing for 140 families, bike and care share programs, and community-serving commercial uses. Brought CicLAvia to South LA, opening up the streets for thousands of people to use as recreation space, for walking, biking, running, skating, and simply hanging out — as a step in TRUST South LA’s growing mobility work which seeks to better utilize public land to serve local families. Initiated Ride South LA mapping projects as community advocacy tools, to demand equitable bike/pedestrian infrastructure investment in South LA.

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1 Submitted Idea

  • 2013 Grants Challenge
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    🎉 Winner

    TRUST South LA 2050: Affordable Homes Sustainable Neighborhoods

    TRUST South LA is building a model for sustainable living in LA in 2050, with a bold plan to make better use of the 3000 acres of underutilized land in South LA, which can be replicated throughout the City. We are working to create affordable homes for our local families, placing land under community control, and building green, healthy neighborhoods. As a grassroots community organization, TRUST South LA is committed to building a vibrant South Los Angeles. We believe that how we use land -- and who controls that land -- has deep implications for the future of our City, our nation, and our planet. TRUST South LA was born from our community’s long struggle against displacement of working-class families, as property values and rents have risen in the neighborhoods south of Downtown LA, near the University of Southern California (USC) and around the new Expo Line. We value community ownership, responsible development, transparency, and the development of grassroots leadership. Over 40% of South LA households earn under $25,000 per year. In fact, 80% of our residents earn below the City’s median income. Clearly, we need economic development to increase people’s income levels, but we also need creative strategies to increase the amount of affordable housing available to these families. The majority of households in South LA can afford between $450 and $750/month for housing costs. Rents in our neighborhoods currently range from $900/month for 1 bedroom units, to over $1,600/month for a 3- or 4-bedroom home. There is an enormous gap between what our families have to spend on housing, and the actual cost of that housing. The result of South LA’s severe affordable housing shortage is that many families are being driven out of our neighborhoods, or they are forced to double-up in existing homes, causing conditions of crowding that are emotionally stressful for adults and children alike. This situation has been exacerbated since the economic crisis has driven up foreclosure rates, and many of those properties are subsequently acquired by real estate speculators. Here is TRUST South LA’s plan to protect our community from the threats of rising housing costs, deteriorating housing conditions, increased housing speculation, and displacement: 1) Purchase foreclosed homes that are on 5,000+ square foot lots, in the same neighborhood, and place the land into TRUST South LA’s community land trust. 2) Add a second 2- or 3-bedroom, 1200 square foot home on to each lot, utilizing high-quality, well-designed manufactured housing – taking advantage of existing State laws and local regulations to build these ‘backyard homes’, and cutting land costs in half. 3) Transfer the homes into a limited equity housing cooperative, through which the tenants collectively own their homes, while the land continues to be held under the stewardship of our community land trust. 4) Make the entire neighborhood more livable by working with the residents, their neighbors and other partners to advance street improvements for bikes and pedestrians, and to add more green and open space. Funding from LA2050 will support a demonstration project for resident-controlled housing in South Los Angeles that will be affordable to low-income households. The award will enable TRUST South LA to purchase and to rehabilitate six existing single family homes, and to add a newly constructed units on the same parcel, yielding permanently affordable homes for 12 families – housing 60-72 people by the end of the one year pilot phase. However, most importantly, our goal is to create a model that can be replicated throughout South Los Angeles and other parts of the City, with a demonstration that will draw the attention and confidence of City and State policy makers and funders.

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