Los Angeles has long been a magnet for young people like 23-year-old Sean Walsh from Oklahoma, who can often be found standing in line for a job as an extra on a film set. How does he afford the rent in LA? He doesn’t. He found a 9-hour parking spot where he and his brother can sleep in their car.
Sean Walsh, 23, is from Oklahoma and lives in his car with his brother. He waits to be seen by Central Casting and hopes to land a gig as an extra. Photo credit: Saul Gonzalez.
A group waits outside Central Casting. They hope to find work as actors in LA. Photo credit: Saul Gonzalez.
People like Sean will probably continue to move to LA, but the overall trend here and throughout California is for lower-income people to leave while the wealthier move in. In the last decade, Los Angeles lost 250,000 people at or near the poverty line, and saw a net gain of 20,000 people with college degrees. Will Los Angeles become just a playground for the wealthy?
Moving day in Boyle Heights. Photo credit: Miguel Contreras
Moving day in Boyle Heights. Photo credit: Miguel Contreras.
Meet Lizzie Brumfield, who’s settling in with her fiance and baby in the desert exurb of Hemet after she was evicted from her gentrifying building in Highland Park. She’s now 90 miles away from the rest of her family. “It sucks because we’re not anywhere near home,” she says.
Mason Cooley and his dog on their land in North Carolina. Courtesy of Mason Cooley.
Others who leave LA could afford to stay, but don’t see the point. Los Angeles native, Mason Cooley says that as he drove out of the city for the last time to move to Asheville, North Carolina, “I just kind of realized that when you leave LA, you're essentially already replaced by so many other people coming in. I never really felt like Los Angeles was the kind of city that was going to miss you.” He likes Asheville, and he advises newcomers to buy property there if they can. The city is filling with gentrification refugees like himself–Asheville’s median home value is up 10 percent over last year.
You're invited! Come out to hear a lively discussion of solutions to LA’s housing crisis. Why is this happening now? Is it possible to build our way out of the problem? Can anything be done to avoid LA becoming as expensive as San Francisco or New York? In the LA of the future, can you find a place to call home? KCRW's Madeleine Brand will host this event.
If you missed the October 11th conversation about gentrification, listen here.