I’m from California, the sunshine state, specifically from Inglewood, the City of Champions. Some may know my city for the new Rams Stadium, The Forum (former home of the Los Angeles Lakers), Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles, Randy’s Donuts, and even the Hollywood Park Casino. Warm sunshine lights up the sky, palm trees line the streets and their fan-shaped leaves sway from the ocean breeze. As an Inglewood native, I know the city is so much more than what it appears to be. Slowly, I have been forced to witness gentrification demolish Inglewood in front of my own eyes, killing our culture and community bit by bit. It is not only painful but it is heartbreaking as well.
According to the Webster’s dictionary, the definition of gentrification is “the process of repairing and rebuilding homes and businesses in deteriorating areas (such as an urban neighborhood) accompanied by an influx of middle class or affluent people and that often results in the displacement of earlier, usually poorer residents.” It is no secret that in most cases the “poorer residents” in these urban neighborhoods tend to be African Americans and Hispanics.
The dictionary’s definition raises several questions for me because who decides that our communities need outside help when it comes to repairs? Instead of pouring resources in the community where residents can participate in their own revitalization efforts, who determined that repairing means to break down instead of building and helping the structure that has already been in place? To repair means to fix. How can are you fixing something in a community when gentrification makes everything completely new, almost unrecognizable? The new structures, businesses, homes are now out of financial reach for many of the original residents. Why can’t the millions of dollars that are being poured into the community to kick us out be used to build, and educate the community that is already there? Enough with the questions because I could go on all day, but Inglewood is rich in culture yet it is being overlooked and torn down day by day. The community is being erased by people who flew here instead of thriving because of the people who grew up here.
I feel gentrification hits even harder in Inglewood because for years we did not have rent control. Rent control is an essential component to renters because it stops landlords from spiking up rent essentially whenever they feel like it. In Inglewood, “64% of households rent rather than own.” In June of 2019, Inglewood’s City Council did approve a rent that would put a 5% cap on the increase of rent and in some cases 8%. Most of the time landlords even raise the rent without repairing anything for months leaving residents with the bare necessities that they need for a healthy living environment. According to Rentcafe.com the average price for rent in Inglewood is $1,856 and the average apartment size is 745 square feet. This is 200 dollars more than the average rent was last year, we are literally being choked out of our community because it’s becoming unaffordable. So now my question is where do the people from the City of Champions go now?