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Highland Park Hosts Vigil For Those Who Lost Affordable Housing To Gentrification

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Highland Park was host to a somber vigil for the victims of gentrification Saturday night. Residents gathered to protest and hear the stories of tenants who have recently been booted from the affordable apartments they've long called home.

Gentrification has been long in the works in Highland Park for some time now—it's become known as a more affordable alternative for middle-class home-buyers and renters who were priced out of neighborhoods, like Echo Park and Silver Lake (that are further ahead in the gentrification cycle). Redfin named it the hottest neighborhood in 2013, and it's become a red hot center of house-flipping. But those skyrocketing property values are taking a toll on longtime renters in the area.

"We’re trying to highlight that gentrification is displacement. The whole process seems to have snowballed in recent years," Arturo Romo told The Eastsider LA, speaking on behalf of the group organizing the protest Northeast Los Angeles Alliance.

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The gentrification process has gone into overdrive the last few months: residents from at least three apartment buildings near Figueroa have been booted while their apartments undergo renovations recently. It's all legal, because these units weren't protected under rent control. These residents are pushed out onto an unreal rental market that shows little sign of improving.

Other residents say that rent hikes have pushed them out. Vanny Arias, a single mother of three, told The Eastsider LA that she recently had to move into a 1-bedroom because of rent hikes: "I can’t help but feel angry. How are they going to raise our rent like that? Everything I know is here."

Romo told The Eastsider, "There is a trauma involved when you’re asked to leave your home, so it means a lot for these people to have a place to talk."

A previous protest targeted local businesses who have moved into the neighborhood that cater to wealthier clientele. But the ire of Saturday's protest was bringing up the aimed at greedy landlords pictured this way:

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Here is one resident sharing her testimony:

Here are one of the rental flips:

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Candlelight vigil:

And a musical interlude: