Low-income tenants of Chinatown building get break from sharp rent hike

Friday, August 24, 2018
Tenants of Chinatown building get break from sharp rent hike
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Low-income seniors protested a planned rent hike at a Chinatown apartment building.

CHINATOWN, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Tenants in a Chinatown rental dispute Thursday celebrated a victory that they hope will hold.

In a flourish of drums and dragon dancers, Los Angeles Councilman Gil Cedillo announced a partnership that will spare the low-income seniors at Metro Lofts from an 8 percent rent increase.

Instead, the developer at a neighboring project, Atlas Capital, will cover the cost.

The agreement was hashed out after an urgent appeal from the advocate group Chinatown Community For Equitable Development.

Senior citizen Ta-Hua Young joined the protests against the owner of Metro Lofts, Meta Housing Corporation.

Young lives on just over $900 a month. Rent takes more than 60 percent of that. She says the rent increase would leave her with about $100 a month for all her other expenses.

"There will be no increases for you," announced Cedillo at a press conference in front of Metro Lofts Thursday morning.

Cedillo says the rent hike was due to new costs for Loft's owner for trash pickup and utilities. There was also a condition imposed on a federal loan to the Loft's owners.

"So that if they have an opportunity to raise rent 2 percent, if they don't raise it, they lose that opportunity," says Cedillo who head the City Council's housing committee.

The struggle of this community is a sobering counterpoint to the newly released Warner Brothers film, "Crazy, Rich Asians." It depicts an immigrant community of mega-millionaires.

The reality according to census figures in a 2013 report by Asian Americans Advancing Justice is that 380,000 Asian Americans in Los Angeles County are low-income with 150,000 living below the poverty line.

Now the tenants of Metro Lofts celebrate a measure of relief.

There are some strings attached to the subsidy. Atlas Capital must be able to proceed with its development nearby which in turn will fund the subsidy.

Atlas Capital agrees to cover the projected $500,000 tab for the rent increase for the next 10 years.