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Little Tokyo Lofts Get Mental, Residents Say No Thanks

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Anyone living downtown in an old converted warehouse is familiar with the specific brand of glee the comes with learning that the big empty retail space on the groundfloor of your building or across the street from your front door has finally been filled. In a downtown that is still growing and adding services for the ever-expanding resident population, any new service is met with excitement. As in: Will it be a Trader Joe's?

Imagine, then, the reaction of Little Tokyo Lofts residents when they learned what was going into their ground floor retail space: a mental health service organization. Um, yeah.

As the LA Times reports, residents of the lofts aren't pleased:

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"For residents of Little Tokyo Lofts, the retail space in their building had held a particular promise. It represented, just as their own units did, another way that gentrification was taking hold in their corner of the city and that the decades-old concentration of social services in the blocks around their building was coming to an end. "We are absolutely aware of the area where we moved into," said resident Jack Harding, who moved to the building from Mount Washington 13 months ago. "But that does not mean that we don't have expectations for its improvement."

It's a tricky situation for all. The lofts border Skid Row. Some downtown residents agree that while there are many social services downtown, there could always be more. Yet other downtown dwellers - and let's face it - homeowners all over Los Angeles, have no desire to get that up close and personal with LA's troubled homeless situation.

There are no easy answers to this growing problem. As the owner of the Little Tokyo Lofts' retail space, Steve Lee, puts it, residents "have chosen a very, very challenging place to live. Hopefully, it will get better before it gets worse."

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