Compton Just Got Trendy

As the cost of living continues to rise in L.A. County, some look towards part of the region that they wouldn’t have considered before

Tracy Mejia, Contributing Writer

A recent broadcast report on CBS Los Angeles reported on how Compton is one of the last places where homes are affordable, calling it “trendy.”

That’s because homes go for less than $400,000 in the neighborhood, compared to similar communities, like Van Nuys and East Pasadena where prices have even tapped into the one million mark.

Gentrification is a problem for most lower income communities, as well as in inner cities.

From the 1920s to the 1970s, the city was home for many Caucasians, Compton played the role of a middle-class suburb, according to Census Bureau. Now, Compton is predominantly full of Hispanics and African Americans, with little to no whites in the picture. Yet the city is starting to see it’s demographic shift, no surprise with the media covering how Compton is “a trendy place to buy a home.”

Compton’s mayor, Aja Brown, suggested there’s much to be optimistic about when it comes to Compton’s economic progress., “We have a funded infrastructure plan for the city of Compton, not only for today but for new generations.,” Brown said in an interview. “We’re going to be able to pay for new roads, parks, streetlights. We’ve had a surge in economic investment, from national stores moving in to the city to small businesses launching here. And our city is safer; homicides are at an all-time low.” It’s no wonder, then, that people from different backgrounds are starting to consider buying a home in a city once considered to be an eyesore.

Figures from the United States Census Bureau from 2012-2016 show that the maximum household income in Compton is $45,406. Most of the community has households where the average family income is $30,000 to $40,000, which shows that those in Compton don’t come from money.

“The average rent for an apartment in Compton is $1,038, a two percent increase compared to the previous year, when the average rent was $1,021,” according to RentCafe. The phenomenon causes those who come from lower income communities to be forced to pay for higher living costs and until they slowly get pushed out of the community they originally come from.

Gentrification can be seen as “progress,” but for those losing their homes in these communities, it can easily be seen as a nightmare.

The Gonzales family is being kicked out of their house in order for the city to sell it. They’ve been living there for about 15 years and paying $1,000 per month. The reason the city wants to sell the house instead of letting people rent it is because they are raising the property taxes around their area.

“I think it’s upsetting that I’ve been living here for over 15 years and the city feels like they can kick me and my family out of our home,” said Maribel Gonzales, 44-years-old, who works as a Durham School bus driver.

Gonzales’ yearly income is roughly $40,000 yearly. Her family includes seven people and that income doesn’t stretch far enough for everyone, especially after her husband was deported.

Her son, Cesar Gonzales, 19-years-old, works as a college tutor for Compton Unified School District, “It’s unfair that we just need to pack all our stuff and go because the city wants to sell our house without our input.”

Although to some it may look that Compton’s community is changing for the better, it is unfair to current residents who are forced from their homes to make way for the suburban middle class. This will eventually lead to property rates to go up and those lower income denizens to be pushed out from their homes because they can’t afford to pay fees that will come with living in the gentrified city.

At the moment, the Gonzales family is looking for a better and affordable place to call home. They aren’t going to move far, but it will add some distance to commutes. The matriarch of the Gonzales family found a home in the city of Paramount. “If we have to move, we might as well move somewhere close for my son. I’ll still be able to work in Compton.”

But it begs the question. Will Paramount see gentrification next? It’s only a matter of time.


Tracy Mejia can be reached at [email protected]