Youth Voice – Our Neighborhoods Assembly

By Angelique H.
Edited by Danna & Helene

Over the summer, I traveled to New York with Southeast Asian Community Alliance (SEACA), a youth organizing group in Chinatown. We attended Our Neighborhoods Assembly hosted by National CAPACD. It was a multilingual conference about housing rights about the housing crisis—which is not only a problem here in LA, but also across the country. The assembly brought together Asian American and Pacific Islander communities and allies from across the nation to share strategies on how to solve the issue of gentrification, one of the main causes to the housing crisis. 

At the conference, we hosted a Youth Breakout workshop, where we used games and activities to communicate what we thought the term “gentrification” means. Our goal was to share strategies on how to combat gentrification and address the housing crisis, and we worked with three other youth groups from New York (MinKwon), Rhode Island (PrYSM), and Oakland (AYPAL) to build a more intergenerational movement around housing rights and justice for people across the nation.

The trip was a valuable learning experience and taught me many things I could apply in my own community in LA Chinatown. Our neighborhood is experiencing gentrification. We hear news of wealthy developers buying property and converting them into luxury complexes. In many communities, local businesses get replaced by franchises such as Starbucks or Chipotle. Due to these changes, rent in the area increases to the point where locals can no longer afford to live here. Locals have gotten pushed out, and have had to either find a new home or live on the streets.

Across the country, especially in ethnic urban neighborhoods, rent has become increasingly expensive. More and more people are becoming poorer, while profit-hungry landlords are becoming richer. If this keeps up there will be no more middle- and lower-income Chinese and other ethnic minorities in Chinatown.

We, the people of LA Chinatown, need to pass laws to create more actual affordable housing and to prevent landlords from raising the rent. 

Angelique is an eighth grader at Arroyo Seco Museum Science Magnet. She is a resident of Chinatown, and this is her third year with SEACA and first year as a Youth Organizer.

Helene attends Downtown Magnets High School. She is a former resident of Chinatown and a second-year SEACA Youth Organizer.

Danna attends Downtown Magnets High School. She is a resident of Koreatown and a first-year SEACA Youth Organizer.

Photo courtesy of Pauletta Pierce

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