Santa Monica Offers Affordable Housing to Residents Displaced by Freeway Construction

A new program seeks to make restitution for the damage inflicted on Black communities by highway construction and urban renewal.

January 2, 2022, 9:00 AM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

Pacific Ocean

Paper Cat / Shutterstock

In yet another acknowledgement of the harm done to predominantly Black communities by more than a half-century of urban renewal and freeway construction programs, the beachside city of Santa Monica "will offer affordable housing to those forced out by freeway construction and those removed in the late 1950s when the city bulldozed another Black area, Belmar Triangle, to build the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium." As reported by Liam Dillon, the program will give preference on the city's affordable housing wait list to qualifying families, including the children and grandchildren of displaced residents.

"Nationwide, more than 1 million people lost their homes in just the first two decades of interstate construction alone. Early on, highway planners targeted many Black neighborhoods for destruction, and displaced families often received little compensation." But while the program is an important step, city leaders acknowledge it can't make up for the loss of homes, livelihoods, and generational wealth caused by displacement.

Elsewhere in the country, the city of Evanston, Illinois has created a reparations program for Black residents, and Portland, Oregon offers priority in the city's affordable housing programs to families who experienced displacement in that city, while a proposed bill in the California state legislature would ban freeway expansion in historically underserved communities.

Sunday, December 26, 2021 in Los Angeles Times

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