Crime & Justice

Skid row hotel reaches settlement with low income residents

Legal advocates for the poorest residents of Los Angeles say they've won a victory in their battle to protect people displaced by development. KPCC's Frank Stoltze reports it comes in the form of a settlement with a Skid Row Hotel and the city's redevelopment agency.

Frank Stoltze: The Alexandria Hotel once hosted U.S. Presidents Taft, Wilson, and Teddy Roosevelt. As eastern downtown L.A. turned into Skid Row, it became a residential hotel for the poor.

Andrea Luquetta: There were people who were living there 10, 15, 25 years. We're not talking about a transient community, although it's often thought about that way. We're talking about a community that's living on a margin, but doing so stably.

Stoltze: Andrea Luquetta of the Western Center on Law and Poverty says over the past couple of years developers using city redevelopment money to renovate the Alexandria ousted many of its occupants with as little as three days' notice and no relocation money. A legal settlement provides $400,000 to 100 of these residents. Luquetta says it also strengthens city policy.

Luquetta: The idea is that when the government tries to invest in a neighborhood, which we all would agree is a good thing, it should not come on the backs of the poorest tenants who are living there... that they should not have to be pushed out, that they should not have to be displaced.

Stoltze: The settlement doesn't prevent displacement. It does require the city and developers to do a better job of giving notice to tenants and finding them other housing they can afford.

Luquetta hailed the settlement, but she also conceded that the city's redevelopment boom, on Skid Row and elsewhere, wiped out thousands of affordable housing units.