SAJE’s Displacement Avoidance Project Aims to Protect South Central’s Small Businesses

By Nicolas Segura, SAJE Intern 

May 14, 2024

In 2022, the California Strategic Growth Council awarded $35 million to local organizations to fund community engagement, workforce development, economic opportunities, urban greening, energy efficiency, transit access, and mobility projects in South Central Los Angeles under the umbrella of the South LA Eco-Lab. Two years later, SAJE and seventeen other community-based organizations and nonprofits are participating in this project, which will plant 6,000 shade and fruit trees, install solar roofs and EV charging stations, expand car-sharing and the LADOT e-bike library, provide free LA Metro passes to more than 10,000 eligible residents, and more. South LA Eco-Lab serves the area from Western to Central and Vernon to Gage and 62nd Street.

SAJE’s role in South LA Eco-Lab is to ensure the economic development and environmental benefits the project brings to the area do not inadvertently cause gentrification. Landlords or opportunistic outsiders may use green development and improvements to the built environment as an excuse to raise rents, increasing the cost of living and displacing longtime residents and small businesses. To combat this, SAJE is leading the Displacement Avoidance Project, which aims to ensure these community members understand their renters’ rights and have the resources they need to defend their homes and livelihoods.

For the first phase of the Displacement Avoidance Project, SAJE is surveying small businesses to understand their concerns and connect them to informational workshops and city and community resources. Eventually, the project team hopes to organize these small businesses into associations that can learn from each other and work together to secure their place in the community. SAJE’s ultimate goal is to partner with community residents and business leaders to secure stronger legal protections for both residential and commercial tenants in the area.

So far, the SAJE team has met with more than 100 small business owners and managers in the South LA-Ecolab turf as well as hosted Know Your Rights workshops for both residents and businesses owners who rent. On May 30, the team will offer the first in a series of free legal clinics for these tenants. SAJE’s displacement avoidance work will continue after the South LA Eco-Lab projects are completed. SAJE is committed to giving people opportunities to learn and thrive alongside the new projects implemented around them. 

“New development and community can coexist, and that comes at the forefront of SAJE empowering the community,” says Outreach Specialist Karen Ramirez, who is helping lead the Displacement Avoidance Project for SAJE. “But, we need more people in the community to get involved.” For more information about the Displacement Avoidance Project and how you can help, reach out to