Los Angeles

Low Income Senior Citizens Fighting Steep Rent Hike in Chinatown

Rent increases have hit the low-income housing facility every year, but residents say this is the most drastic yet and are fighting back.

Residents of an affordable senior housing complex in Chinatown have signed a petition to stop or reduce a planned 8 percent rent increase.

Many of the residents claim they would no longer be able to afford living there and and could become homeless after the increase goes into effect in August.

"Maybe some people move out now, but next year [there could] be another rent increase, next year after that another increase, so that low income people will have to move out of something called 'affordable housing,'" said resident Victoria Steele.

Even though their landlord, Meta Housing, highlights its affordable rent costs and social advocacy on its website, some say tough rent increases are nothing new, with 3 to 4 percent increases since the complex opened in 2012.

"This is not a one time thing," said resident Eric Hunt. "This has been going on slowly, incrementally over the course of five years."

Hunt also fears that residents are slowing being pushed out in favor of people who could pay more. Steele says if it was not for Section 8, she would be on the verge of leaving too.

"If I didn't get that, I would have been looking at how do I put up a tent, where would be the best place to pitch it, where are the women hanging out," Steele said.

Steele has helped organize her senior citizen neighbors against their landlords, with many of them meeting Thursday about ways to fight the rent hike. They are pushing for a reduced hike and demanding that any future increases come with at least 90 days' notice instead of the 30 they got this time.

The residents have brought their case to the office of Los Angeles City Councilman Gil Cedillo, who said in a statement he and his staff are working with the residents and Meta Housing to see if the rent hike can be alleviated.

"We stand committed to protecting our low income residents and affordable housing," Cedillo said.

According to the the latest monthly report from the website Zumper.com, rent in metro Los Angeles is the second highest in the region, behind only Santa Monica.

The average one bedroom unit rent jumped almost one percent to $2,360, while the average two bedroom unit rent is now at $3,310.

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