The fight to save Chinatowns nationwide from gentrification is being played out in two cities right now.
A landmark in Philadephia’s Chinatown will be spared the wrecking ball, at least for now, reports NPR station WHYY.
In Los Angeles, rents are expected to surge at a Chinatown affordable housing complex that is about to be converted to a market rate apartment building.
According to Capital and Main, the affordability covenant that has been in place for 30 years at the four-story apartment building known as Hillside Villa will expire in June.
Shao Zhao works at a non-profit and has lived with her mother at the Hillside Villa since 2007.
“Without rent control they can continue to increase our rent with a 60-day written notice,” she says. “Some people literally can’t afford it. It would be like 100 percent of their income.”
Some 30 tenants in the 124 units have already left in anticipation of the rent increases. Many of the tenants are non-English speaking residents from China, Vietnam and Latin America.
“When people leave, it’s not like leaving a block away. It’s literally leaving Los Angeles,” she says. “We have folks that moved to Riverside. We have folks that have moved to Tijuana.”
In Philadelphia, plans to demolish the former Chinese
Cultural and Community Center have been withdrawn following protests. About 7,000 signed a petition organized by the Philadelphia Chinatown Development Corporation urging the building owners to keep it in tact. They’ve withdrawn their plans, but plan to come back to the city with a new plan.
“If our community members want Chinatown to exist for our children, grandchildren, and future generations, we must stop the destruction of Chinatown and our historic buildings. The destruction of Chinatown will lead to the destruction of our history,” the petition reads.
A representive of the Philadelphia Chinatown Development corporation says the owner’s have expressed a willingness to reach a compromise.
“They are willing to work with us,” Wu said to Capital and Main. “We suggested they should use architects who are specialized in historic buildings.”
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