Central Los Angeles : Low-Income Tenants Rally in Support of Rent Subsidies

Political rabble-rousers long have told the masses: Don't mourn, organize. In Silver Lake on Thursday, tenants of a subsidized apartment complex did a little of both.

Fearful of an upcoming congressional vote that may eliminate rent subsidies, about 40 tenants from Silver Lake Plaza staged a mock funeral for affordable housing.

At risk in next week's scheduled vote are subsidies for an estimated 10,500 apartment units for low-income residents in Los Angeles County and 140,000 nationwide, according to the Coalition for Economic Survival, which organized the event.

"This is like the front line of the battle," said coalition leader Larry Gross.

Residents in the 88-unit complex on Evans Street say they have received notices of drastic rent increases--some more than doubling current rents.

Property manager Mike Damron, who watched the demonstration, said he understood the tenants' plight but added that the building's owner could not afford to charge below-market rates without subsidies.

"It's an injustice," said Ernestina Burillo, an 80-year-old woman who has lived in the complex for 16 years. "Where are we going to go? Where are we going to live, on the streets?"

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