Santa Monica provides housing for families displaced by the highway
SANTA MONICA, Calif. (AP) – The city of Santa Monica will provide affordable housing for black families forced to flee during highway construction and other urban renewal projects in the 1950s, according to a newspaper article published on Sunday.
Some 600 families lost their homes during the construction of Interstate 10 in the Pico neighborhood, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Starting in January, these former residents and their descendants will be offered priority access to apartments with below-market rents in the hope that they return to the coastal city of Los Angeles County.
Affordable housing will also be available for displaced families when they razed another black area, Belmar Triangle, to build the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium.
Children and grandchildren of those who have been displaced will be eligible.
“We can right a historic wrong,” Santa Monica City Councilor Kristin McCowan told The Times. “Eventually, we’re going to do it for more and more people. And if other communities start to do their part, you can see a real tidal wave potentially across the country. “
The city’s program will initially be open to 100 displaced families or their descendants who earn limited income, but city leaders hope their efforts will turn into a national model for tackling past racist policies.
The Santa Monica Act of Civic Penance is an attempt to acknowledge the harm done to largely black communities during the era of highway construction and urban renewal after World War II, the Times reported.
The program is part of a national movement to compensate residents for racist harms related to housing and property. In September, California Governor Gavin Newsom signed a law allowing the return of the waterfront lands known as Bruce’s Beach to the descendants of a black couple who were kicked out of Manhattan Beach nearly a century ago.
Nichelle Monroe, whose grandparents were forced to leave the Pico neighborhood, told The Times she had mixed feelings about the new housing program and the city’s other recent efforts to recognize black history . Monroe believes the city should make it easier for her family to buy a house in the community.
“But what else is there?” Monroe said. “The theft is still there. Generational wealth has always disappeared.
Nationwide, more than a million people lost their homes in the first two decades of interstate construction alone, according to the Times. At first, highway planners targeted many black neighborhoods for destruction, and displaced families often received little compensation.