Climate-Informed Anti-Displacement Initiatives in Los Angeles: Enterprise Community Partners
Enterprise Community Partners (ECP) is a national nonprofit dedicated to creating opportunities and connections through affordable housing. In collaboration with more than 50 partners in Southern California, ECP tackles issues related to housing affordability and homelessness through policy, advocacy, programs, and capital that promote more equitable communities. ECP’s history is grounded in anti-displacement initiatives that utilize funding, design, and community engagement to provide quality affordable housing for all who need it. Through the Green Communities and Resilience and Disaster Recovery initiatives, as well as local programs such as the Sustainable Connected Communities program in Los Angeles, ECP is integrating climate change adaptation and mitigation strategies into community development and anti-displacement initiatives.
The City of Los Angeles faces climate concerns including changes in temperature and precipitation, sea level rise, drought, and fire. Threats to public health and healthcare services, loss of infrastructure, and community displacement are all potential impacts. Existing factors such as homelessness and racial and economic inequities may be exacerbated by climate change impacts in the region. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Social Vulnerability Index, Los Angeles County has one of the highest levels of social vulnerability in California, considering socioeconomic status, household composition, race/ethnicity/language, and housing/transportation criteria. Possible scores for the Index range from 0 (lowest vulnerability) to 1 (highest vulnerability), and the greater Los Angeles region scores at 0.7883.
As a national organization, ECP has developed a series of tools and resources related to green building, climate resilience and development without displacement based on best practices and partnerships. ECP’s work at the intersection of affordable housing and climate change is exemplified by their participation in the Los Angeles Regional Open Space and Affordable Housing (LA ROSAH) collaborative. LA ROSAH is a group of environmental, open space, affordable housing, and community development organizations that includes ECP, Community Nature Connection, Little Tokyo Service Center, Los Angeles Neighborhood Land Trust, Leadership for Urban Renewal, Mujeres de la Tierra, Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority, Natural Resources Defense Council, Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, Southeast Asian Community Alliance, The Trust for Public Land, and TRUST South LA. LA ROSAH has two overarching goals: (1) to advance policies that prevent green gentrification; and (2) to advance parks and affordable housing joint development projects. These strategies help combat the displacement pressures often seen through parks and green space/infrastructure projects that can address local climate concerns (e.g., air quality, water quality, extreme heat).
ECP has developed a series of guiding criteria called Enterprise Green Communities, which affordable housing developers can use as a parallel to the LEED certification process. ECP is updating these criteria to include climate resilience. In addition, ECP has developed a Portfolio Resilience Tool, which allows owners of affordable housing to obtain risk scores (e.g., fire, flood, sea level rise, extreme heat, local vulnerability) for their properties. This tool helps owners identify where improvements are needed and provides links to resources for financial aid.
After Hurricane Katrina devastated the coasts of Louisiana and Florida in 2005, ECP became involved in developing resilience and recovery strategies for at-risk communities. ECP’s Equitable Climate Resilience Initiative focuses on the recovery and resilience building of communities impacted by natural disasters. As a result of Hurricane Maria in 2017, ECP has been involved in recovery efforts in Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Florida Keys. As a housing development organization, ECP is working to rebuild areas on the islands in ways that promote climate adaptation and community resilience. A result of this work is Keep Safe: A Guide to Resilient Communities in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands, a book detailing practical design and construction guidance for rebuilding climate-resilient communities while avoiding massive damage and displacement that is relevant to other vulnerable communities.
Through the Sustainable Connected Communities program in Southern California, ECP is focusing on anti-displacement policy and the integration of affordable housing with climate impacts and community concerns. As member of LA ROSAH, ECP was involved in developing the Pathway to Parks and Affordable Housing Joint Development report, which brings together examples of and recommendations for displacement-, green infrastructure-, and equitable development-related projects. One such project in Los Angeles is in the Isla Intersections supportive housing developments by Clifford Beers Housing. This supportive housing development is being constructed out of shipping containers and will provide permanent supportive housing to over 50 formerly homeless individuals; the project includes on-site healthcare services and a public open space on a “shared street” containing a “living lung” of greenery to ameliorate pollution exposure.
ECP is also involved in policy change and development as it concerns affordable housing and equity concerns. A major accomplishment for ECP’s policy advocacy work in Los Angeles was the inclusion of anti-displacement provisions in the Safe, Clean Neighborhood Parks, Open Space, Beaches, Rivers Protection and Water Conservation Measure (Measure A), which will provide billions of dollars for new parks in the next decade. The Measure A Grant Administration Manual, approved by the County Board of Supervisors in March 2019, provides guidelines to avoid displacement and scoring criteria that evaluates applications for new parks based on multiple criteria, including potential displacement. Provisions include that affordable housing developers can apply for funds for the joint development of parks and housing.
Outcomes and Conclusions
ECP and their partners are working toward better integrating climate change adaptation and mitigation-related information into affordable housing initiatives with the goal of combating displacement and advancing racial equity. ECP is actively collecting data from affordable housing owners and nonprofits in order to conduct a holistic assessment of the physical and financial health and needs of these buildings. ECP has also begun to examine energy and water systems of affordable housing to reduce costs and emissions, as well as determine each development’s exposure to flooding, fires, extreme heat, earthquakes, and other natural hazards.
As part of LA ROSAH’s ongoing work, ECP continues to connect housing developers to parks experts through project scoping sessions to advance more joint parks-affordable housing pilot projects. Much of ECP and LA ROSAH’s work is in the developmental and implementation stages; however, these organizations are leading examples of efforts actively working to tie together anti-displacement work (e.g., affordable housing development) with climate change.
Recent efforts to revitalize the 51-mile corridor of the Los Angeles River in order to create healthy communities has put additional stress on the existing vulnerabilities of the region. Some of the unintentional consequences of this project to date include increased property values and rent prices, which many fear may lead to the displacement of individuals and communities. ECP and other community advocates, led largely by the Southeast Asian Community Alliance, are working to get ahead of the potential displacement and green gentrification impacts of the projects included in the city’s Los Angeles River Revitalization Master Plan through advocacy and outreach efforts.
Braddock KN, McChesney K. 2020. Climate-Informed Anti-Displacement Initiatives in Los Angeles: Enterprise Community Partners. [Case study on a project of Enterprise Community Partners]. Product of EcoAdapt’s State of Adaptation Program. Retrieved from CAKE: https://www.cakex.org/case-studies/climate-informed-anti-displacement-initiatives-los-angeles-enterprise-community-partners (Last updated April 2020)