live / 2021

Owning our Communities, Controlling our Destiny

Idea submitted in the My LA2050 Grants Challenge by El Sereno Community Land Trust

The Los Angeles Community Land Trust Coalition intends to use the grant to develop a campaign strategy to organize tenants and supporters to advocate the passing of a LA County Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act (TOPA). TOPA is a proposed policy that will empower tenants to have the first right to purchase their building and multi-generational wealth in their neighborhood.


In which areas of Los Angeles will you be directly working?

  • East LA
  • San Fernando Valley
  • South LA
  • South Bay
  • County of Los Angeles

What is the problem that you are seeking to address?

Over 50% of housing units in Los Angeles are owned by large landlords employing speculative investment vehicles that contribute to mass evictions and displacement. This speculative, corporate housing system has been capitalizing on low-income and immigrant communities of color even before the COVID-19 pandemic. Housing prices have jumped 34% in California since the pandemic began, benefiting the wealthiest landowners who are taking advantage of cheap mortgage rates to purchase larger properties. Millions of homeowners are expected to fall into serious delinquencies in early 2022 — particularly among small business owners and employees of sectors hit hard by COVID-19. Low-income renters that have lost their in-person service sector jobs live in precarious risk of eviction. It is clear that the renters in LA County have the odds stacked against them, and current systems make it nearly impossible to be able to save enough to purchase a home.

Describe the project, program, or initiative that this grant will support to address the problem identified.

The LA CLT Coalition has strategically decided to advance a policy framework that expands community ownership of housing across the County of LA: The Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act (TOPA). Our initiative has multiple pathways to engage Angelenos: The LA-CLT Coalition has created an Instagram account, twitter account, and a website for our policy campaign to provide extensive and vibrant information about CLTs, the proposed policy, and how to get involved. We plan to use our existing platforms to advocate for the TOPA policy as well. All five CLTs will use their organizational websites and social media handles to ensure there is a wider reach. Popular education materials will be posted on social media to increase knowledge of community ownership models and the TOPA policy. Have multiple learning spaces for people across LA County to get involved in learning about CLTs and TOPA. In these learning spaces, we plan to recruit other community-based organizations (CBOs), small businesses, and a diverse group of Angelenos from neighborhoods throughout all five supervisor districts. We will encourage people to engage their supervisor district representatives. All learning spaces will be accessible via zoom and will be recorded. The LA-CLT Coalition will mobilize hundreds of people to attend the Los Angeles Board of Supervisors’ meetings to give public comments on how TOPA will better their neighborhood. Angelenos will support TOPA policy efforts by using #TOPA4LA hashtag.

In what stage of innovation is this project, program, or initiative?

Expand existing project, program, or initiative (expanding and continuing ongoing, successful work)

Approximately how many people will be impacted by this project, program, or initiative?

575
Direct impact
22,000
Indirect impact

Describe how Los Angeles County will be different if your work is successful.

TOPA legislation would benefit Los Angeles County by preventing the displacement caused by gentrification, serve as reparations for communities of color, provide wealth building through housing that communities of color from now-gentrifying neighborhoods have been denied, promote multigenerational wealth building opportunities, and serve as a homelessness prevention mechanism. But what does all of this look like? Imagine walking down Atlantic Blvd in Compton, instead of seeing dilapidated buildings where low-income families are overcrowding because of the increased displacement and rising costs of rent, those buildings are owned by the residents that live there. They don’t fear being displaced and feel an ownership of their neighborhood and its conditions because they have a stake in it. Imagine an LA County that allows for intergenerational wealth creation among low-income POC communities and that leads to an increase in businesses owned and run by those same people.

What evidence do you have that this project, program, or initiative is or will be successful, and how will you define and measure success?

In 2020, the LA-CLT Coalition was successful in passing two precedent-setting LA County CLT policies. The first is a pilot program for the LA CLT Coalition to acquire Chapter 8 tax foreclosure properties, in order to prevent their acquisition at auction by speculators, and instead to stabilize current residents and convert the housing into affordable housing. The second established a $14 million demonstration program for the LA CLT Coalition to acquire and rehabilitate multifamily buildings across the County of LA with the intention to convert them into permanently affordable housing, stabilize tenants in their homes, and to work toward tenant ownership of their own housing. With the support of LA 2050, we will launch the County of LA TOPA campaign. Our social media campaign, community engagement, and political action are necessary to create the first right to purchase policy in unincorporated LA County. We will measure our success by passing TOPA on a county level by the end of 2021.

Describe the role of collaborating organizations on this project.

The Los Angeles Community Land Trust (LA-CLT) coalition is submitting this proposal collaboratively. We are a group of five (5) community land trusts in Los Angeles. Each community land trust is directed by the residents that live there and the surrounding neighborhood. Each community land trust brings different specialties, such as tenant and social justice organizing, developing properties and mixed-use buildings, cooperative development, and environmental sustainability. The LA-CLT coalition fundraises together, has a separate financial account for shared funds, developed the Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act (TOPA) campaign and plans policy actions together, is in the process of creating a coalition strategic plan, and long-term structure of the coalition.

Which of the live metrics will you impact?​

  • Housing affordability
  • Homelessness

Indicate any additional LA2050 goals your project will impact.

  • LA is the healthiest place to CONNECT