Not everyone welcomes Boyle Heights’ affordable housing boom

Las Alturas (left) and The Whittier/Rendering Courtesy Retirement Housing Foundation

Developers of affordable housing have been busy in Boyle Heights, with several hundred apartments for low-income families and seniors that have recently been completed or are in different stages of planning and construction. The list of projects include the 53-unit Sol y Luna that would rise five floors near Evergreen Cemetery;   a 60-unit affordable apartment complex on Whittier Boulevard being built by a developer planning to build a second 78-unit project next door; the Lorena Heights Apartments that opened in March with 112-units; about 100 apartments for seniors in the former Linda Vista Hospital overlooking Hollenbeck Park; and, the historic Boyle Hotel, which will provide 55 affordable apartments across the street from Mariachi Plaza.

While these and other projects may not go very far to satisfy the demand for low-cost housing, some Boyle Heights property owners argue that too much affordable  housing is being built in the neighborhood, according to Boyle Heights Beat.

In a story that looks at over crowded housing conditions in Boyle Heights, some residents have complained  that the new affordable developments are  serving only to draw more low-income residents to the neighborhood and failing to  provide enough housing for existing resident and building a larger middle classs Property owner Felicitas Acosta told Boyle Heights Beat:

“Each and every community should be responsible for their own community and social economic problems, and Boyle Heights should not be the place where everybody builds low-income housing,” said “We need a mix of incomes if we want to make Boyle Heights progress.”

Martha Cisneros, treasurer of the Homeowners Association, added:

“In order for people to buy more homes, we need to stop with the low-income affordable [housing], and we need to fight to bring more middle-class residents.”

A UCLA study cited by Boyle Heights Beat said that 41%  of Boyle Heights housing was defined as low income in 2009 compared  to 37% 1990. Meanwhile, the neighborhood remains among the most densely populated communities in the region, with seven times more people living per square mile in Boyle Heights than what is typical for the rest of Los Angeles County.


  1. As a home owner I completely understand! These housing projects also lower property values to surrounding homes and decrease the amount of parking spaces available, these low income housing projects should be evenly spaced among all communities in Northeast L.A. Why don’t we see some of these apartments built in Eagle Rock or SilverLake/Los Feliz area?

  2. You MUST stop calling this stuff LOW INCOME housing. Even the city does not call it that. It is classified as AFFORDABLE housing. And you will not find the prices very often what you would call affordable, as the city calls $1,600 a month for a one-bedroom apartment “affordable.”

    YOU don’t tell us what these “affordable” rents will be at this complex, but if you did, I doubt anyone would call them “low income,” and it is likely they would not even consider them “affordable.”

    Also, as I have observed, few of these buildings devote ALL their units to what the city calls the “affordable” range. You don’t tell us anything about how many of the units here will be classified as “affordable.” When the builder agrees to meet the “affordable” rent levels for a small percentage of the units, the city grants them a big density bonus to build more units than they otherwise would be allowed to build. That is the norm, that they agree to build more units at $1,600 a month.

    You can’t just ignore these details in your story — you leave people make wrong presumptions and conclusions when you do that.

    • I’m not sure where your $1600 figure comes from but apts in BH are much lower than that. For example the brand new Lorena Heights building mentioned above has rents from 900 for a studio and up to 1300 for a two bedroom. That’s building wide not just a few units. $1600 rents you a large house in BH.

  3. What’s the issue? What are people scared of? It’s going to be the same people that live in our community already. With the price of rent now a days I think it’s a good idea. I don’t think it will generate low income families from Compton or watts.

  4. I agree with Henry…please include some specific information which would help us understand the actual impact these properties will have on Boyle Heights. What are the results felt by communities of variances growing out of developers’ bonuses?

    • Roosevelt High School is already one of the most over-crowded high schools in the NATION. Does anyone think it’s a good idea to funnel even more children into RHS from all of the developments?

      Not me.

      RHS Class of Summer, 1967

  5. Well to start off I agree with some off the comments
    above. I am a home owner in the area and we already
    have low income or affordable housing. They are fine
    but the high rise building you are now asking if
    we think are okay are out of the question. High
    rise building only ask for trouble. There
    use to be two of them near my home and I was happy
    to see them come down. The residents were given
    a nice one story home. When you talk about bringing in two large
    building like that you have to think about the people who already
    live in area. Crime is high and when you bring more into the area with
    affordable homes it is only asking for trouble.

    If you want to do something in the community
    then bring in people with a good income who
    work downtown and do not want to commute
    anymore. The area Is trying to upgrade its image not
    set it back. Boyle height is bringing in more businesses
    to the area and it’s changing. This development
    is not a good thing for Boyle heights.

    These developers are not going to be live in the area nor will their
    Families. I am all for helping my community. I want to see it
    grow into a safe and friendly community.

    Jenny D

  6. Well there is a big diffrence between Affortable housing and low income housing.
    1. afforable housing is much high near market value and base on and up and down market. It should always be base on income.
    2. Low cost housing is much more base on the income people are bring in each month and the rent should reflect that.

    I think more important is that more people should attend more public meetings. There is alot more to this housing project than most people know. I always like to remind the latinos you are know majority of the state of california this is the time to make change.

    • yes. the big difference with a number of these projects is that there are community meetings. Most developers don’t even do that.

  7. With Boyle Heights current real estate listings in the $100-200K range, I doubt more condo-style housing will impact property value anymore than it already has been. The developer doesn’t list any projected financial information on their website, but $1,600/month rental would be three times the cost of a conventional mortgage for a home in the above range.

  8. As an ELA homeowner with a planning background developing multifamily housing over the past 10 years, I want to respond by saying that contrary to public belief, there is NO correlation with affordable housing development and the decrease in property value. Property values are primarily determined by recent sales and it is a misperception to think that an increase of these types of developments will lower property values. Moreover, there are many affordable multifamily developments being built in other neighborhoods such as Eagle Rock, Silverlake, Koreatown, etc., and often times, these types of developments have spurred and attracted market-rate developments in historically lower-income neighborhoods such as Echo Park, Little Tokyo and Chinatown. Affordable housing developments have increased property values and increased the amount of investments into neighborhoods close to the central business district by attracting more businesses and service amenities. The Eastside still has a long way to go, but with an emphasis on transit-oriented developments, improvements to our community will come at a faster rate.

    • Very good comment. I agree. There is a very strong stereotype of affordable housing being dilapitated towers — coming from a history of slum housing in New York and Chicago. All of these newer developments in Los Angeles are quality affordable housing and majority not that “dense” as commonly stated. Most of them blend in or would be mistaken as market rate because they are good quality housing.

  9. The problem with these big projects is that they are creating a density problem. The available services in BH are already stretched very thin. Schools are at capacity. There are many neighborhoods in Los Angeles with high rise apartment buildings and condos. We already have our share of large apartmant buildings, lets fix them, many have great character. I don’t want those new massive projects here, that’s not the BH I grew up in that’s not the BH I want to live in. As it is every neighbor I have seems to have a “back house” with renters that have 2 cars and no where to park. It is time the city step in to enforce some quality of life issues, illegal housing units being rented, too many street vendors and everyone is having a yard sale “everyday”.
    I live in a great neighborhood, 90023 is where I want to be. let’s not change it, let’s make it better. Improving existing places like the Boyle hotel great idea. All along Boyle are plenty of places to replace or improve large apartment buildings.

    • I definitely do agree that the services and amenities in our neighborhood on the eastside is stretched thin. Regardless, I think there is a great value to these types of developments because it does help alleviate the overcrowding living situations by providing people living in unpermitted units, overcrowded households/units, etc. an opportunity to apply for quality affordable housing with access to social services. Density, especially around transit corridors, is a City of LA policy issue that seems to have developed traction over the past decade, and with that, we hope to attract additional community investments.

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