Boyle Heights is a working-class Mexican-American neighborhood just east of Downtown Los Angeles. And, according to a flyer distributed in more affluent parts of the city, it’s a “charming, historic, and bikeable neighborhood” that’s ready for new home buyers.
“Why rent downtown when you can own in Boyle Heights?” asks the flyer, distributed by real estate agent Bana Haffar at Adaptive Realty. The firm provides services to real estate investors in Southern California.
The flyer has ignited a controversy amongst locals in Boyle Heights who have recently seen some local historic buildings bought out by developers who plan on creating new condominiums and office space. The neighborhood that is 95 percent Latino has a poverty rate averaging 10 percent higher than the rest of Los Angeles, according to the latest Census data.
“It didn’t help that the flyers had only been distributed in the Arts District (just across the river from Boyle Heights), meaning that residents were finding out about it secondhand and thus left to construct their own narratives about who was behind it and what their intentions were,” wrote Sahra Sulaiman on la.Streetblog.org , a local community blog.
Haffar took to a local Boyle Heights Facebook page to defend her flyer.
“People need to realize that Boyle Heights is inevitably going to change due to it's proximity to Downtown and regardless of my little flyer,” she wrote in a Facebook comment. “What is wrong with helping good, socially conscious folks purchase these properties, restore them, live in them, and rent them?”
Haffar told Fusion she's received many calls from locals who supported her event and an equal amount of feedback from critics.
"It's been a crazy three days," Haffar said.
“Out of respect to the Boyle Heights community I’ve decided to cancel the event,” Haffar said.