Affordable housing activists erect mock tent city in Fairfax district

FAIRFAX DISTRICT, LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Activists erected a mock tent city outside the Grove shopping complex on Friday afternoon while calling on city leaders to create more affordable housing in Los Angeles.

"You may think this will never happen to you," said Section 8 housing resident Emily Martiniuk, who lost her job and then her home several years ago. "And please believe me, I hope it doesn't. But it happened to me."

Protester Dina Brown, of the nonprofit group L.A. L.O.V.E., wore a T-shirt that read "Gentrification is Warfare."

"I always say to people, 'You might be OK. You might be a homeowner - but I bet you, you know someone who's hanging on by a thread," Brown said.

A study released earlier this month found that Angelenos need to make upwards of $109,000 annually to afford the average apartment in the city.

"I mean, what can you say about that? It's misery," Brown said.

Activist Mel Tilekeratne called on Mayor Eric Garcetti "to take the lead and make affordable housing the priority for the city of L.A. - not the Olympics."

In a statement released to ABC7, the mayor's office acknowledged the housing crisis.

"At the same time, we must protect the affordable housing we already have," said press secretary Alex Comisar. "The Mayor has already strengthened the Rent Stabilization Ordinance, and we are taking new steps to educate renters about their rights."

Brown said the effort has not been enough - "not when we all have to come out here and make these kinds of stunts, to get public attention for this problem."

"L.A. should be for everyone," she said. "Everyone should be able to have a place to live."
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