J.T. Supports the Tenant Opportunity to Purchase Act (TOPA) Coming to L.A.

At the same time that calls increase on our public officials to support not luxury, but humane housing in Los Angeles, a growing number of people are also calling for more Community Land Trusts (CLTs). CLTs maintain community ownership–or shared stewardship–over land and housing, committing to permanently affordable housing options for community members.

According to Matthew Vu, a resident of South Central Los Angeles and student at L.A. Trade Tech’s Community Planning and Economic Development department, CLTs require participation from homeowners and tenants, as well as other members of the community in their governing board meetings or governing structure. Vu also notes that renters in areas covered by CLTs can work with local CLTs to acquire a property together, facilitating the process of acquisition for tenants as well as the non-profit stewards..

The first modern Community Land Trust was born in the late 1960s in Southwest Georgia, when Black farmworkers and civil rights leaders, including members of the famed Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee, founded New Communities Land Trust, turning nearly 6,000 acres of land into homesteads and agricultural area, as well as providing affordable housing for Black farmers and their families on the land. As of 2019, New Communities turned 50 years old and is still operating in partnership with Black farmers.

There are now up to 225 CLTs in the United States, twelve in California, and five in L.A. County. In June 2020, the city of San Francisco passed the Community Opportunity to Purchase Act, providing local CLTs there the first opportunity to purchase buildings and take them off the market once they’re on sale. At least six buildings in the Bay area at risk of being purchased by speculators have been saved by local CLTs since the law’s passage, keeping them affordable for low-income residents there.

Now, in an effort to create more for Community Land Trusts across Los Angeles County, which at 10 million residents is the largest in the U.S., CLTS in Los Angeles have formed a coalition and are urging communities to learn about the Tenants Opportunity to Purchase Act. The L.A. Community Land Trust Coalition (LACLTC) is an organization of L.A.’s local trusts, “committed to the preservation of low-income communities of color by decommodifying housing, promoting education, community empowerment, the conversion of tenants to owners, and making housing a human right.”

The Tenants Opportunity to Purchase Act (TOPA) is a proposed law that would give tenants in unincorporated areas of L.A. County the first opportunity to buy the building they live in if and when a building’s owner decides to sell the property. The five Community Land Trusts (CLTs) in L.A. County advocating to bring TOPA to L.A. include: Beverly-Vermont CLT (BVCLT) along the East Hollywood and Koreatown areas, El Sereno CLT (ESCLT) in the El Sereno community, T.R.U.S.T. in Historic South Central, Fideicomiso Comuntario Tierra Libre (FCTL) in the Boyle Heights/East Los Angeles area, and Liberty Community Land Trust for the Southwest and Mid-City communities.

Want to learn more? Check out the TOPA Town Hall hosted by the T.R.U.S.T. and Liberty Community Land Trusts this past February.

J.T.

In Los Feliz, No Good Deed Goes Uncovered

The working people of Los Angeles are people who do not believe in much until they see it. Here is a recovered Deed Restriction from Los Feliz, circa 1926, reading, on Paragraph 11:

“This property…subject to the following conditions…That said property or any part thereof shall not, nor shall any interest therein at any time, be rented, leased, sold, devised or conveyed to or inherited by, or be otherwise acquired by or become the property of or be occupied by any person whose blood is not of the Caucasian Race, but persons not of the Caucasian Race may be kept thereon by such a Caucasian occupant strictly in the capacity of servants of such occupant.” 

The image is taken from Cal State University Northridge’s LA: On Film and On Record series.

Since 1926, the Los Feliz neighborhood has grown in diversity, but according to a study of the 90027 zip code, in which Los Feliz is situated, as recently as 2018, 59% of the neighborhood remains white. Latino and Asian residents make up 21% and 13% of the neighborhood’s population, while Black residents make up only 3% of the population. The data make Los Feliz one of the more segregated neighborhoods with respect to the city of L.A.’s current demographics.

To learn more about deed restrictions and housing in Los Angeles, you can now RSVP for Making Our Neighborhood: Redlining, Gentrification, and Housing in East Hollywood, our panel series with This Side of Hoover, via EVENTBRITE.

J.T.

J.T. Endorses LAUSD’s Request for Collaboration with Verizon to Support Students in Case of School Closures

“March 9, 2020

Hans Vestberg
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
Verizon Communications
1095 Avenue of the Americas
New York, New York 10036

Dear Mr. Vestberg:

Los Angeles Unified serves the needs of almost 700,000 students who live in communities spread across 700 square miles. About 80% of students are from families living in poverty. 73% of students are Latino and 8% are African American. We serve students and families with high needs.

As we plan for a potential occurrence of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) in our schools, we are taking steps to ensure students can continue to learn from home in the event of extended school closures. At the core of this will be online instruction using a digital device connected to the internet. Unfortunately, about 25% of our students — 125,000 children — have neither a device on which to learn nor the ability to connect to the internet outside of school.

We would like to discuss with Verizon a plan to support our students by providing internet access to those who may not otherwise have access to learning.

We hope Verizon will consider working with us on this. I will call your office to follow up.

Austin Beutner”

J.T.

J.T. with the new Los Cuentos golf hat

Schoool (For the students of Los Angeles)

A little remix of 21 Savage’s billboard-topping ‘a lot’ by yours truly for the students of Los Angeles. Listen to the instrumental while using these substitute lyrics:

“How much homework you got? (straight up) 
How much homework you got? (straight up) 
How much homework you got? (straight up) 
How much homework you got? 

How many homeworks you got (a lot) 
How many quizzes you got? (a lot) 
How many teachers done doubted you? (a lot) 
Kicked you out the class? (a lot) 
How many lessons you lost? (a lot) 
How many field trips it cost? (a lot) 
How many laughs did you caught? (a lot) 
How many admins you shock? (a lot) 
How many times did you try? (a lot) 
How many times was it pride? (a lot) 
How many times you cold feet? (a lot) 
How many times did you sigh? (a lot) 
How many times your hope grieve? (a lot) 
How many times did it cry? (a lot) 
How many chances rap done gave you? (a lot) 
Thuggin’ round words like poets (a lot) 

Every day that I exist, I’ma side with the kids 
I’d rather be paid their thoughts than collect like Trix 
Told my students take my cred if my speech starts to cringe 
But I’m J.T. forev ain’t no way I’ma fidge(t)”

We give these schools they ground, we give these schools they ground 
We give these schools they ground, we give these schools they ground
We give these schools they ground, we give these schools they ground
We give these schools they ground, we make L.A. go ’round.

Huge potential outcomes if you state a couple facts 
Your dream so bold you could put it in your cap 
Fam vs the world, me and moms, it was us 
Then school sent me to da station and they really cuffed me up 

My father broke wives so he failed to be my teach 
My brothers popped ice and it fell em to the streets 
I been through the court but it turned me to J.T. 
Now the other side is sunny, I get paid these thoughts on sheets 

How many homeworks you got (a lot) 
How many quizzes you got? (a lot) 
How many teachers done doubted you? (a lot) 
Kicked you out the class? (a lot) 
How many lessons you lost? (a lot) 
How many field trips it cost? (a lot) 
How many laughs did you caught? (a lot) 
How many admins you shock? (a lot) 
How many times did you try? (a lot) 
How many times was it pride? (a lot) 
How many times you cold feet? (a lot) 
How many times did you sigh? (a lot) 
How many times your hope grieve? (a lot) 
How many times did it cry? (a lot) 
How many chances rap done gave you? (a lot) 
Thuggin’ round words like poets (a lot) 

We give these schools they ground, we give these schools they ground 
We give these schools they ground, we give these schools they ground
We give these schools they ground, we give these schools they ground
We give these schools they ground, we make L.A. go ’round. (x2)

How many sent to the deans’? 
For throwin ‘ they shots like vaccines 
I can see behind the phones and filters 
Egos ain’t big as they seem

Intersects like a string
Everybody got they thing 
Some students make dean’s list, other students make lean
I’m gon’ reflect on the scene
I’m not gon’ choke, I’ma free ‘em 

I don’t wan hear your concerns 
This ain’t no parent-square but I’ma care 
When they dragging kids down for expressin’ they heritage 
U know kids can learn from rap battlin’ and culture 

I guess you were hoping the rules would just tame they true selves
But these bars flowin ‘ college of self

OK, I got it, we’ll show up on everyone’s algorithm 
You know what bro Malcolm would preach 

Bettin ‘ a thousan

It’s got to the point that these schools ain’t even always the safest to be 
Fuck it cause that’s where this Los Cuentos fashion just hit me
It led me to save kids a spot, on a new remix to drop 
Shout out to “a lot, ” I polish the hook and I jot 

Pray for our schools cause they robbed like Iraq 
I picture the slaves on the fields pickin ‘ cot 
Respecc how they made it past all em cops 
Risking no less than they death if they caught 

I pray for the students who think they should cut 
Just want you to know your lives matter, my kiddos 
If I never met you, still know that you special 
And that the world needs you, don’t doubt it, for reala 

All the real teachers, stay solid, amigos 
I’m only tellin ‘ it just how I felt it 

I saw this parent look lost and abandoned  
When told that her kid goin ‘nowhere by standin’ out,’ I got amends 

It’s said that ur grades all about ur success, jot this dissent 
Flow on a mission reflectin’ how goals at our schools got be bigger 
Before we relent, reala

How many homeworks you got (a lot) 
How many quizzes you got? (a lot) 
How many teachers done doubted you? (a lot) 
Kicked you out the class? (a lot) 
How many lessons you lost? (a lot) 
How many field trips it cost? (a lot) 
How many laughs did you caught? (a lot) 
How many admins you shock? (a lot) 
How many times did you try? (a lot) 
How many times was it pride? (a lot) 
How many times you cold feet? (a lot) 
How many times did you sigh? (a lot) 
How many times your hope grieve? (a lot) 
How many times did it cry? (a lot) 
How many chances rap done gave you? (a lot) 
Thuggin’ round words like poets (a lot)

We give these schools they ground, we give these schools they ground 
We give these schools they ground, we give these schools they ground
We give these schools they ground, we give these schools they ground
We give these schools they ground, we make L.A. go ’round.

J.T.

Don’t Be One Who You Are Not (A 7th Grade Student’s Poem on Identity)

Don’t be one who you are not,
Be one who you are.

Wearing a mask wears you out,
Faking fatigues.

The most exhausting activity is
When you pretend to be
What you know you aren’t.

Everybody has something special inside,
They just don’t always show it.

Search deep inside,
And in your heart
You’ll know it.

LB

Doubt is My Father’s Knee (A 7th Grade Student’s Poem on Doubt)

Who doubts me,
I doubt me, my friends doubt me,
Doubt just finds me.

I think of my father’s fall
Even after puncturing his knee
He still wanted to drive us home,
He didn’t want to quit on us,
He had no doubt about it.

Rest in peace Ermias.

Nipsey believed in everyone,
His passing has led other leaders to step up.
His hopes have led others to care for our community,
Other influencers now continue his work.

I can also help others face doubt.
I can inspire my family.

Like my dad holding up an open knee,
Showing all of us how to stand tall
No matter what holds us down.

TTV.Vnunez323

I Knew (A 7th Grade Student’s Poem on Doubt)

Doubt, my dim companion.

We can hurt from many things,
But what’s most painful is
When our loved ones doubt
How much they’re truly loved.

If you’re in doubt
Then follow your heart,
If you’re in doubt
Then follow your instincts.

Keep your spirit salient through the motions.

One of the worst feelings is
To doubt something,
To doubt yourself.

Doubt keeps our minds captive
And fearful of the things which
Make up our past.

Fearful of the seconds that make up the present,
Fearful of the hours that make up tomorrow.

But when you doubt,
Know that I knew how much
You loved me.

When life was sweet,
And when life was dark,

When you told me,
And when you didn’t.

When it was easy and when it was hard. I knew.

I knew you didn’t
Doubt me.

JR-D

This poem is dedicated to my aunt, uncle, parents and teachers.