Apartment tenants fight possible eviction in Highland Park
(FOX 11) - These are the faces of gentrification, and this is their home. A 60-unit apartment building in trendy Highland Park set along the Metro Gold Line.
"Like coffee shops on every corner. Why do they have to change my neighborhood... Why?" asked Erick Berdejo, a 10 year resident of Marmion Royal Apartments.
Berdejo and his family are among more than 20 families who received eviction notices when the building was sold in May. He and other residents decided to fight the new owners, Skya Ventures, who bought the building for more than $14 million.
With help from community organizer John Urquiza, they formed a union and even staged a picket line when renovations began in August. Developers want to renovate and raise rents in the trendy up-and-coming area.
Market rents in Highland Park go for 50 percent more than what many of the residents are paying. Berdejo and his parents pay $950 for a one bedroom.
"They were increasing the rent to $1,700 for a one bedroom. It was like, wow we can't afford this," Berdejo said.
In an email, a representative for Skya Ventures told FOX 11 that not one rent increase was served to current residents and that the company empathizes with residents and continues to do everything in it's power to assist them in renewing their residency in a renovated unit or find a new home.
For now, construction has been halted as the future of these tenants now remains in the hands of a judge.
Residents are asking for long-term leases with limits on rent increases to 3 percent per year.
Meanwhile, the first group of residents who were served eviction notices are getting set to go to court.
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