Thursday marked the National Renter’s Day of Action with various rallies erupting across California cities and on the east coast to protest the rising rents and gentrification occurring in cities across the nation.
So it was no surprise that day to see Housing Long Beach (HLB) organizers lead a march with a dozen tenants through downtown to demand improved housing conditions.
For the local march, organizers planned their route along various apartment buildings that, according to documents provided by HLB, have frequently been cited for code violations.
The documents list nine landlords who have received between 90 and 389 code violations for Long Beach properties since 2011. The violations range from black mold and mice infestations to inadequate plumbing.
Starting outside of the Neighborhood United Methodist Church off Pacific Avenue, the march went on peacefully westward towards Daisy Avenue with various stops in front of properties. Several onlookers joined in, chanting, “Don’t displace, don’t erase, let us stay in place.”
17-year-old Elizabeth Torres took part in the march as a HLB. “The reason that I came here is because my family is going through the same problems and I feel that I need to support my neighborhoods,” Torres said.
Outside a property on the 400 block of Magnolia Avenue, HLB Community Organizer Maria Lopez shared with protestors that the building’s two co-owners run at least 10 properties and have been cited for a total of 196 violations.
“Many tenants have faced evictions and continue to look for appropriate housing for their families where they don’t have to live in overcrowded homes infested with cockroaches and rats,” said Lopez.
At the march’s final destination along Daisy Avenue, hot dogs and snacks were given out to the protesters and tenants. HLB Executive Director Josh Butler mentioned that the homeless problem in Long Beach is worsening as rents increase, forcing families out of homes.
“Things have changed so dramatically that we’re seeing people end up in the streets and homelessness is shifting all the way across Long Beach now,” said Butler. “We have people in the east side of the city who are saying that there’s homelessness there now but those in the west have seen that for years.”
Outside of apartments along Daisy Avenue, two teens shared how, living there for the past two years, they have seen little to nothing done to improve their housing conditions.
“Roaches are the worst…besides the mice,” said a 14-year-old. “I just want the place to be fixed up in general.”
A 12-year-old, who also lives in the same complex, said it takes over a month for the landlord to fix anything when asked and that the landlord does not allow the children to have recreational fun on his property, which property signs make clear.
“If he’s not trying to do anything for us, we’re not going to obey his signs,” he said.