South LA residents affected by USC’s development plans distrust $1 billion redevelopment

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As early as next week, the Los Angeles City Council is expected to weigh in on USC’s $1 billion proposed redevelopment plan, and neighbors of the university are asking city officials to make sure that plan includes some of the provisions they want.

The private university is proposing an expansion within its South Los Angeles neighborhood that is part of its 30-year master plan. USC is working with the City of L.A. to develop new student housing near campus — 5,200 new student beds, to be specific. The proposed redevelopment project will be one of the city’s largest in the last decade.

But many of South L.A.’s longtime residents fear that USC’s plans won’t cover the existing demand for student housing. They also fear continued displacement of local families, and they say USC hasn’t guaranteed them jobs or low-income housing.

Elida Siguenza has been a neighbor of USC’s for 23 years, and a janitor at the university for just as long. She and her family pay $550 for a one-bedroom apartment. But, she says, many of her neighbors have already been pushed out.

“What would really affect me is if our rent went up, even just a little bit," says Siguenza. "It’s happening all around us. Landlords are taking advantage of the demand for USC student housing to run longterm tenants out.”

Conflicts over low-income and student housing near the USC campus have been going on for over 10 years. University spokespeople say its current redevelopment plans will address the housing needs of a growing student population, and $2 million will be given back to the community for more low-income housing.

Over the next few weeks, residents and local groups will be asking members of the City Council to make sure USC’s plan includes provisions for local housing and jobs, as was required of other big development projects, like L.A. Live and Staples Center.

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