Housing in Brief: Santa Monica Will Offer Housing to People Displaced by 1950s Freeway Construction

Also, Philadelphia begins moving protest encampment residents into community land trust, and more.

Construction of the 10 freeway tore through a then predominantly Black neighborhood.

Construction of the 10 freeway tore through a then predominantly Black neighborhood. (Photo by Michael / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

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Santa Monica To Offer Affordable Housing To Communities Displaced By Highway Construction

In an attempt to redress past wrongs, Santa Monica will prioritize placement on an affordable housing wait list to people removed from their homes during the construction of the 10 Freeway as well as their descendants, the LA Times reports. The freeway was built through the Pico neighborhood in Santa Monica, then predominantly Black, part of a nationwide trend of Black communities being forcefully displaced during the construction of the nation’s interstate highway system. Descendants of people displaced during the construction of the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium in the Belmar Triangle, which was also home to a large Black community, will also be prioritized on affordable housing wait lists.

However, the wait lists currently includes about 6,000 people, the LA Times reports. The wait list placements will also be income restricted, available to those making no more than $66,250 for a single person or $94,600 for a family of four. The apartments are restricted at 1,891 for a one-bedroom or $2,896 for a four-bedroom, the LA Times says.

Nichelle Monroe, whose grandparents were displaced from Pico during the construction of the 10 Freeway, told the LA Times of the repercussions. “It’s almost like PTSD. It affects how you think of yourself in society, what you believe is possible in that society.”

Philadelphia Moves Former Encampment Residents To New Housing

Philadelphia took the first steps to fulfill a promise officials made in October 2020, when residents of a protest homeless encampment and a series of illegally occupied row houses were assured affordable housing in exchange for the city clearing the encampments, according to Philly Mag. The protests included an occupation of abandoned row houses owned by the Philadelphia Housing Authority which the housing authority had planned to auction off to raise funds. The city and PHA instead offered 50 units of vacant affordable homes to be rehabilitated and placed in a community land trust. The community land trust was established by activist Jennifer Bennetch, a protest organizer who lives in a PHA-owned home and who faced serial harassment from PHA police officers, according to The New Republic. To date, nine of the promised fifty homes were rehabilitated by PHA and placed into the land trust and the first residents began to move in in late December.

New Oregon Law Could Increase Affordable Housing In 2022

An Oregon law that will take effect in 2022 will allow affordable housing to be built on publicly owned land that is zoned for commercial and light industrial. The law requires this housing to serve people making 80 percent or below of the area median income, according to Jefferson Public Radio. It effectively overrides the need for local rezoning applications across the state. The law, which was passed in June, will increase the amount of land immediately available for affordable housing development, which is otherwise rare. Emily Reiman, CEO of housing nonprofit DevNW, said in written testimony in support of the bill, the Salem Reporter said. Finding this type of land had been a rarity as it requires land zoned for multifamily use, sold relatively cheaply, and near public infrastructure like transit and schools.

This article is part of Backyard, a newsletter exploring scalable solutions to make housing fairer, more affordable and more environmentally sustainable. Subscribe to our weekly Backyard newsletter.

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Roshan Abraham is Next City's housing correspondent and a former Equitable Cities fellow. He is based in Queens. Follow him on Twitter at @roshantone.

Tags: affordable housingphiladelphiainclusionary zoninghighwaysland trusts

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