America incarcerates more people than any country in the world. It starts with kids. On any given night, roughly 53,000 young people are in some form of lockup. Nearly 60 percent are black or Latino. We all make dumb mistakes in our youth. But for these kids, those same destructive choices have a lasting impact. Mass incarceration starts young.
From the team that brought you There Goes the Neighborhood, tells the stories of young lives forever changed by collisions with law and order. In this episode, meet Z, a kid who had his first encounters with law enforcement when he was just 12 years old. Now, at 16, he’s sitting in detention on an armed robbery charge. Z's story introduces the questions: What happens once we decide a child is a criminal? What does society owe those children, beyond punishment? And what are the human consequences of the expansion and hardening of criminal justice policies that began in the 1990s – consequences disproportionately experienced by black and brown youth?
Caught: The Lives of Juvenile Justice is supported, in part, by the Anne Levy Fund, Margaret Neubart Foundation, the John and Gwen Smart Family Foundation, and the .
Shackled to the Market
There are lots of ideas out there about how to address L.A.’s housing crisis. But many proposed solutions bring their own problems. This week, we explore some of the most popular ones.
One big idea: build. Build on small lots, build next to train stations, build skyscrapers and build townhouses. Mayor Eric Garcetti wants to see 100,000 new homes built in Los Angeles over eight years. Brent Gaisford, director of the advocacy group Abundant Housing, says if we build twice that amount we would still just be “treading water.” He adds, “I would love to see us build 30,000 units a year.”
That’s not so easy. Neighborhood opposition has stopped many housing projects already. One big reason: new housing may help the supply and demand imbalance in the long term, but in the short term it often raises prices. Political consultant and Crenshaw-area neighborhood activist Damien Goodmon says, “Even though many of these projects don't require any type of tear down, just the imposition of them, given their scale and the fact it will be priced out well outside the level affordable to local residents, unleashes a wave of gentrification.”
Gentrification: No More L.A. Traffic, Put It That Way
Los Angeles has long been a magnet for young people like 23-year-old Sean Walsh from Oklahoma, who many days can be found standing in line for a job as an extra on a film set. How does he afford the rent in L.A.? He doesn’t. He found a 9-hour parking spot where he and his brother can sleep in their car.
People like Sean will probably continue to move to L.A., 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?
Meet Lizzie Brumfield, who’s settling with her fiancé and baby in the desert ex-urb 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,” Brumfield says.
Others who leave L.A. could afford to stay, but don’t see the point. Los Angeles native Mason Cooley says that he's left the city for the last time to move to Asheville, North Carolina.
“I just kind of realized that when you leave L.A., 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,” Cooley said. He likes Asheville, and he advises newcomers to buy property there if they can. Why? The city is filling with gentrification refugees like himself — and Asheville’s median home value is up 10 percent over last year.
Coffee, Pizza and Beer
Gentrification isn’t just about who’s moving into the neighborhood. It’s about juice bars, yoga studios, fancy pizza and of course coffee shops. What’s it like to open a business that neighbors will clearly recognize as a symbol of change?
Entrepreneurs Lisa Jurado and Rex Roberts just opened a coffee spot in Glassell Park, a neighborhood in Northeast Los Angeles, and they know when some people see their shop they’ll mutter about gentrification. But Jurado and Roberts worry more about the possibility of a Starbucks taking their business than neighborhood backlash.
In Echo Park, Israel Palacios had to move his pizza restaurant after his rent got too high. His family had run the restaurant for more than 20 years. He reopened his business at a cheaper site across the street, only to see a high-end, more expensive pizza place open in his old location. What really gets him angry? The new owner kept Palacios’ old sign. “I like the signs,” says Zach Pollack, the chef at the new restaurant. They’re “kind of like a symbol of the neighborhood.”
Change the Name of the Arts District to the Luxury District
Are artists victims of gentrification? Or the perpetrators of it?
Artists move into empty post-industrial spaces and poor neighborhoods, save on rent, create their work, build up studios and communities — and then find they're priced out.
Lisa Adams was evicted twice from L.A.'s downtown Arts District and is worried it's about to happen again. Thirty years ago the area was home to light manufacturing and warehouses. Now it's one of the city's most expensive places to live. "Artists are willing to put up with things that other populations won't," says Lisa, “You are a kind of forerunner to what is to come."
Artist Lisa Adams in her studio
In downtown L.A., The Wolff Company housing developer uses the cultural cachet of living an "artsy" lifestyle to rent two-bedroom loft apartments for $2,700 in a building called OLiVE DTLA. They advertise "commissioned street-art murals" as a building amenity and held a competition for a working artist to move in temporarily and give some street-cred to the property. "It's an authenticity and a personality that we have to kind of work to give the building," says the developer's marketing director.
Demographic change in Downtown L.A. since the 1970s
(Maps by Michael Bader)