Detroit Bungalows Residents Push Back Against Demolition Plans

The Detroit Bungalows
The Detroit Bungalows
Some residents of the Detroit Bungalows are mounting a campaign to prevent the 1920s era buildings from being demolished and replaced by a larger building that will house low-income and other disadvantaged people.

The group launched a Facebook page called “Save the Detroit Bungalows” this week. Dr. Love, a resident of the 10-unit complex, is an organizer of the campaign. (Dr. Love declines to reveal her first name, preferring to be referred to as “Dr. Love.”) Dr. Love said she also is reaching out to members of the West Hollywood City Council and historic preservation advocates.

The Detroit Bunglows now is owned and managed by the West Hollywood Community Housing Corp., a non-profit organization that builds and rehabilitates housing for low-income and other disadvantaged people WHCHC currently has 17 apartment complexes with 341 units in West Hollywood, Glendale and Los Angeles.

With the help of a $1 million loan from the City of West Hollywood, WHCHC recently purchased the property next door at 1123 and 1127 N. Detroit St. with the intention of combining it with the Detroit Bungalows site. Robin Conerly, WHCHC’s executive director, said the organization hopes to build a 22-unit building for people living with HIV, homeless young people, the mentally ill and those with other special needs. Conerly said WHCHC hopes to engage the L.A. LGBT Center to help provide services to the tenants.

Dr. Love said that she and other residents object to plans to demolish the Detroit Bungalows. Love cited the charm of the units, which WHCHC acquired and renovated in 1989. She said the residents, who qualify for residency because of their low incomes, also like having their own outdoor space.

for what is called the “Blue Hibiscus” project. The City of West Hollywood recently made a loan of $1 million to that fund to enable WHCHC to With that $1.24 million purchase, expected to close in December, the Affordable Housing Trust Fund will be empty according to a report prepared by WHCHC.

But Conerly said WHCHC has been “struggling with the bungalows because it’s a very old building… It was originally farm worker housing for thosee picking either oranges or avocados. They are small units, about 400 feet each,” she said. Conerly said cost estimates for upgrading the existing bungalows received a few years ago ranged from $500,000 to $1 million, and still wouldn’t bring the units into compliance with city codes.

Conerly said WHCHC is looking for additional financing for the project and hasn’t made any firm plans as of yet. ” Our biggest focus now is taking care of the people on the site now,” she said. “There will be a generous benefits package (for those who might be forced to move because of construction), and I think they can all come back and live in the same building. Conerly said WHCHC representatives intend to meet with Detroit Bungalow residents and discuss their plans.


30 Comments
  1. This is concerning to me. Will there be an opportunity for public comment to the City of West Hollywood about this project?

    It seems to me, if what I read on Facebook is true, that a contract exists between at least one long time resident and the city, in the form of a letter signed by a former mayor, that seems to exclude the possibility of evicting at least him, and presumably anyone there atm, without making accommodations for them elsewhere, of equal or better quality and at at equal or lesser cost.

    But then, I believe in fairness and living up to commitments.

    So, does anyone have a link to a public comments page on weho.org? I’d like to weigh in there. I vote, and I also organize.

  2. I happy to say another wonderful candidate came to the Detroit Bungalows for support. Ms Lauren Meister. We thank you for your time Lauren. And we welcome other candidates to stop by as well to see the Detroit Bungalows personally.

    Also for those interested according to WHCHC’s 990 of 2013, combined employee salaries exceeded $1,000,000.

    https://www.whchc.org/…/financial-infor…
    WHCHC IRS Form 990 12-31-2013

    Page 7 lines 10,11,12 are as follows:
    Robin Conerly …..,……$139,997 +$10,933 for other compensation
    Rosemary Olson ……..$133,467 +$ 5,333 for other compensation
    Jesse Slansky………….$106,878+ $ 5,103 for other compensation
    Page 10 line 7 states:
    Other salaries &wages….$881,042

    Total is over $1,250,000 for salaries and wages alone for a NON profit corporation.
    For most of the bungalow residents who live on $889 a month and dont qualify for food stamps, its hard to imagine how such a prosperous Corporation wouldnt have the means to relocate its residents.

  3. I want graciously to thank Dr. Love for giving me time this afternoon to view the Detroit Bungalows and express her views on her above mentioned residence. I found her bungalow both on the outside and inside to be very pleasant looking and not in need of major repairs but I am not an expert on such matters. She also showed me around and introduced me to a couple of neighbors.
    I gather from her perspective that to tear down what are nice living arrangements for 8 households now. doesn’t make sense to build a total of 22 units on this spot when the lot ( north) next door looks even larger and maybe could accomplish good sizeable housing for the same purpose.
    The Detroit Bungalows are close by to the Monarch Essex housing complex and some other future housing to be constructed next door. I believe there should be a balance of housing in this situation, maybe preserving what works and is livable for the residents of the Detroit Bungalows and coexisting with the newly construction that has taken place already over recent years including the Gateway West target shopping development.
    Discussion of housing for the east side for the city is very important and I look forward. to discussing the matter more. John Allendorfer

  4. I recently heard that the Housing Corporation was sending an attorney to the residents to “negotiation a deal” with them. If this is, in fact, true, then the residents need an attorney to protect them as well. Anything short of staying in their homes or a PERMANENT and financially equal living situation would be an egregious and unconscionable move on the part of WHCHC. Most of the residents of the courtyard are in need of some extra help from the community. To treat them differently or to treat them as if they should be grateful for anything they get is just wrong. It strips them of their dignity and it strips them of their rights. It should rub all of us the wrong way to condone an organization being allowed to say ” we’ll help you, but because we are helping you, you have no right to complain.” The cavalier attitude of Ms. Conerly is somewhat surprising. I wonder how she would feel, or any of us would feel, if we were in the situation of being told we had no choice, that we had to move now, and then had to move again later, maybe back to Detroit and maybe not. Ms. Conerly only “thinks” they can all come back and live in the same building? Will Ms. Conerly be the one to inform the woman who lives there, but due to mental illness is terrified to ever leave her apartment? We had better be dead sure these people, our fellow citizens, are taken care of with dignity and respect or a pox on us all. None of them “chose” their situation; they did not choose autism, or agoraphobia or any of their other ailments. But WE can choose to help them before we try to bring in a bulldozer. Developers are building a huge 72′ building next door to the courtyard. I believe that there are to be affordable housing units in the “Domain.” So, when that’s ready to go, maybe be could promise the 11 residents 8 of the new units. There must be many solutions. Let’s be sure that whatever is decided upon is what’s best for the current residents and NOT what will bring more funding and grant money for WHCHC.

    George Washington Carver said,”How far you go in life depends on your being tender with the young, compassionate with the aged, sympathetic with the striving and tolerant of the weak and strong, because someday in your life you will have been all of these.”

  5. Sent from my MetroPCS 4G Android device

    —— Original message——
    From: business in area
    Date: Sun, 1/11/2015 11:28 AM
    To: jdamico@weho.org;Jheilman@weho.org;Jduran@weho.org;Aland@weho.org;Jprang@weho.org;Rmendez@enterprisecommunity.org;Madeleine.rackley@lacity.org;Marnold@Lhasa.org;Karl.lott@hklaw.com;Pnoonan@weho.org;Kenneth.sofge@wellsfargo.com;Pspillane@idsrealestategroup.com;Robin@whchc.org;Jesse@whchc.org;Danny@whchc.org;Sue@whchc.org;Ted@whchc.org;
    Subject:Detriot Bungalows

    Dear All:

    We are extremely upset at the notion of demolishing the Detroit Bungalows in favor of building affordable housing in its place. You see, the people who reside in these bungalows are disabled, Seniors,Veterans, Autistic, are afflicted with HIV/AIDS and HEP C, not to mention that some have lived there for 40 years. At least three residents have in-home care, and one has a life alert system.

    To disrupt these folks and force them out is more than cruel–it is a huge betrayal of their trust in you to look out for their well-being! The negative impact on their lives would be damaging to say the least.
    We, the citizens of West Hollywood and surrounding Communities implore you to not pursue this flippant and egregious plan.

    Sincerely Yours,

    V Wolf
    Homeowner

  6. So we’ve heard from Council candidates Lauren Meister and Larry Block on this crisis – what do the current Council and candidates think?

    Where are our leaders, and wanna-be leaders? What say you on this crisis?

    John D’amico
    John Heilman
    John Durran
    Abby Land
    John Allendorfer
    Brian Funnagan
    Joseph Guardarrama
    Lindsey Horvath
    Christopher T. Landavazo
    James Duke Mason
    Matthew Ralston
    Tristan Schukraft

    (And what’s your opinion on using over-development to keep broke agencies and city governments afloat?)

    1. Yes, I would love to hear from ALL the candidates, including the two who will be running in June for Jeffrey Prang’s seat: Heidi Shink and Cole Ettman….What is happening at the Detroit bungalows might very well be the tip of the iceberg in what is NOT RIGHT at WHCHC. Is this the first time that they are evicting their tenants? the very people for whom their mission statement is supposed to protect?

      Now that the cat has been let out of the bag, so to speak, what about the FACT that WHCHC is planning on allowing AT&T (for a whopping $35,000 – approximate – a year) to install CELL ANTENNAS on the ROOF of their award winning Sierra Bonita apartments – without even giving the existing residents a heads up…nor conducting any sort of community outreach. Hell, I don’t know but I sure would not want to have a cell antenna 5 feet above my head 24×7…I wouldn’t want AT&T to have 24×7 access to the roof over my head…..but why should the residents of Sierra Bonita have any say in the matter? They are living in subsidized housing after all…….right….!

      NOW is the time forALL OF US to scream out about these 2 properties and find out exactly what is going on. Something just ain’t right at WHCHC.

    2. I sent this Wehoville comment page this morning to the emails of every running candidate, Mayor D’Amico who responded, John Heilman, and the board of directors and staff of WHCHC. So hopefully more will weigh in.

  7. This is less about historic preservation and more about saving our existing affordable housing stock — particularly, affordable housing that was created specifically for people who really need it.

    Our city and WHCHC need to set an example for “Aging in Place” and allow the residents of the Detroit Bungalows to do just that, in their homes that they expected to be in for the rest of their lives.

    WHCHC, don’t claim to provide affordable housing and then kick out the residents who counted on you for their affordable housing. It’s just plain wrong.

    1. Thank you Ms Meister. Mr. Block has brought some excellent statements on this subject as well. I would like the other candidates to voice their opinion on this and the Council members who are already in office should express their plans for this growing problem.
      There are so many affordable housing units in West Hollywood and still more to come. We have residents within our 8 bungalows that have partisipated in West Hollywood elections since the city was Incorporated. To force them out of West Hollywood by bulldozing their home and than replace them with people who have never lived in West Hollywood is sickening.

  8. What is unacceptable is a city that touts ‘aging in place’ and then evicts poor and disabled persons. What is unacceptable is a city that touts aging in place as it’s core values as well as rent stabilization and tenant rights but a senior or disabled person living on a second floor unit cannot have an option to move to a first floor unit if available.. — (an idea I proposed to rent stabilization and coming up on a future agenda, with a mechanism to be cost effective for the landlord and help the tenant).. — A city that brags about ‘aging in place’ and as soon as you are too old or unable to walk up steps you have no place else to go.. cause there is not a single assisted living facility in our city.. so your forced out of the city. Great plan Heilman, noble idea 30 years ago, we need someone to finish the job.

    1. Brilliant Mr. Block! Thank you. Its simple but by the time WHCHC is through with it there develops a smoke screen of confusion. What are they hiding?
      Here are the facts:
      We are 11 residents in 8 bungalows. We are:
      Disabled
      Seniors
      Vetrans
      Autistic
      HIV/AIDS
      HEP C
      Some have lived here for 40 years!
      3 have in home care
      1 has a life alert system.
      We are low income and feeble. THERE IS NO RELOCATION TO ANOTHER BUILDING MADE AVAILABLE TO US.
      Yet, WHCHC wants to take down 8 bungalows to build a 22 unit complex. They have said the Bungalow residents could move back to the complex whenever it is finally completed and there is no guarantee when that would be. But assuming the current residents of the Bungalows did move into the new complex. That would mean 8 of the 22 units would already be full. That would leave only 14 available units. Does it make sense to borrow $1,000,000 from the city, destroy 8 bungalows, a large house next door with a large apartment behind it to build a boxy complex to gain in the end only 14 new units??
      WHATS REALLY GOING ON??!!
      Its so unreasonable and clearly outside of WHCHC’s budget that many are beginning to respond to our Facebook page with questions such as:
      Where is the money going?
      Why is West Hollywood Community Housing Corp.beginning to build outside of West Hollywood?
      Who is benefiting from the frenzy to gain government grants and build another complex when the buildings WHCHC already owns need upgrades and repairs?
      Why are so many silent about these simple questions?
      It wasnt until the Facebook page went up and citizens began to call WHCHC’s board of directors that WHCHC admitted to we the residents that they were planning to bulldoze the Bungalows.
      I think its time to call for an investigation. There are too many unanswered questions and the citizens of West Hollywood have the right to know what their non profit corporation WHCHC is doing.
      Dr. Love
      Bungalow Resident

    2. This is just outrageous! WHCHC, leave well enough alone! The residents of the Detroit Bungalows deserve to remain where they are—to disrupt their daily lives and home lives would be an absolute crime. It makes me shudder to think that an agency like WHCHC who supposedly is an advocate for the less fortunate citizens turning its back on these people in favor of greed. Shameful.

      1. To my suprise Mr. John Allendorfer just knocked on my door! He came out to see the Detroit Bungalows for himself and on a Sunday. He was very gracious and listened to several of the residents. He looked at the property and inside a bungalow to see if the outrageous claims that the Bungalows are in shambles was true. He was suprised how nice everything looked. He took time to see our organic garden and wildlife sanctuary.
        Than Mr. Allendorfer walked next door with me to see the old house and aparyment that WHCHC just bought to demolish as well. He could clearly see our claim that the property next door is plently large enough to build 22 units. In fact to use both of these properties for 22 units is absurd unless they were 3 bedroom units for families. Clearly this is an excuse for WHCHC to get rid of the Detroit Bungalows so they can spend money on something that will attract a grant.
        THANK YOU MR. ALLENDORFER!!
        Dr. Love

  9.  
     
    https://www.facebook.com/pages/Save-the-Detroit-Bungalows/849951181723155

     
    To Movie Industry Businesses, Neighborhood Councils, Neighborhood Watch Groups, Neighbors in the SMBL/LABREA area, and to Preservation Activists, LACurbed, LA Times and WeHoville,
     
    Please make the time to review the attached Facebook page and map. The comprehensive slide show with detailed information shows the Old Hollywood Movie Industry Nostalgia this area is saturated with. However, before every shred of the historic past is bulldozed to the ground, we need to voice our concerns or complaints to the decision makers behind this crusade to turn our area into high rise apartment complexes and impersonal corporate buildings. We are grateful for the gentrification but there must be a balance.
    The Detroit Bungalows are just the next building on this hit list but if we say nothing there will be more. Whether you are involved in the movie industry or a home owner of the area, please take a minute to write a few lines to the email list below, calling for a balance of building construction. It could be your building or home or the house next door that is on the hit list next.
    Please get involved,
    Sincerely,
    Dr. Love
     

     

  10. The bungalows were completely renovated, new plumming and electrical. WHCHC has become motivated by money no matter what they say. Whether you think the Bungalows arecharming or not, you have to ask yourself, do you want one large modern complex next to the other without any break in the typical box style buildings?
    There is something sinister at the heart of this. I have repeatedly emailed the Mayor and called his secretary without even an automated response. We, the tenants were the last to know. For those who want to voice a concern or complaint please go to the Facebook page and cc the list of “Decision Makers” who are involved in this.
    As for myself……ITS TIME TO GET LAWYERS INVOLVED
    DR. LOVE
    RESIDENT

  11. Honestly I am appalled by the idea that WHCHC makes light of actually evicting the very people they are SUPPOSED to be helping. If these buildings need so much repair and are not up to code, under who’s leadership were they allowed to get this way?

    Also, what guarantee do any of the existing tenants have that they will be eligible to move back in, given the facts in the above article stated by Robin Conerly, the executive director of WHCHC: that the 22 new units will be for “people living with HIV, homeless young people, the mentally ill and those with other special needs”. And if all of the current tenants can return, then WHCHC is only going to be able to house an additional 10 people!

    I agree with the above statements made by Kathy. Something is very fishy, especially about the money.

  12. The story is evolving – now the residents are being told by WHCHC that the housing will be for homeless youth not senior/disabled low income housing. -Didn’t they just build youth housing in the area on La Brea?- They say the residents can return but- is it legal for seniors and adults to live in youth housing? And now WHCHC says the residents will not get help with relocation. But they will receive some kind of monetary compensation. All are long-term residents, some have been there for almost 40 years. All of them are senior and/or sick/disabled. The residents have yet to hear anything back from City Hall or the City Council.

  13. I used to live in bungalows like these and I have to say, while quaint, they are extremely costly to maintain. Many of these older buildings have foundations that are cracked, termites, cracks in the plaster, individual roof maintenance, individual sewer and water lines, pest control, etc. let alone the cost to heat and cool the structure as they are not insulated very well. I love history and preserving properties…but I think it’s in everyone’s interest to construct a new, more cost effective, sustainable and safer environment for these tenants that need assistance. Of course these tenants should be housed in another location until this is built. Then they should be able to move back in at the same price.

  14. This is astounding! The building has really very little integrity and yet residents would like it preserved. It is by no means an even good example of a bungalow court. Clearly the honest thing to do is not wast money renovating this less than quality property but to build 22 new units and allow the former tenants to return. While it is inconvenient, the ultimate result is a benefit which benefits the greatest good. When I clean out the closet I never like to let go of a well worn sweater. But just knowing someone else may find comfort makes me willing to share my resources. Isn’t their enough beauty on earth and enough love for everyone?

  15. Why can’t the Housing Corp. build ten or twelve units on the lot next door and then let the current residents move there while the existing bungalows are demolished. Ideally I would love to see these historic buildings preserved as they help preserve a sense of community and continuity in West Hollywood. But it seems strange to me that we are not be putting the needs of the current tenants first; after all each one of them is part of this community and the cavalier dismissal of the problems they will face finding housing anywhere near West Hollywood seems more than a bit callous. I think that a community that prides itself on being compassionate and creative can come up with a better plan to protect these tenants.

    Steve Martin

  16. We should demand that the City find housing for these folks during construction, and let them back in after construction, but their residence should not be an impediment to progress.

    We cannot economically survive with the volume of housing we have in West Hollywood. It serves neither the low-income or the middle class. That is not to say that more development doesn’t have its own problems, but we need to recognize that the status quo is also unacceptable. Supply and demand.

  17. I think that Kathy & Lauren Meister (on Dr. Loves facebook page) present the only humane solution.

    I received a call and an email from Dr Love.
    Below, is the list, from her, of the eleven people to be evicted:

    -A disabled women with a 16 year old autistic child
    – Vets, some of which have lifelong problems due to their service for our country,
    – A senior citizen who has lived here for 40 years and has been in and out if the hospital this month alone.
    – A couple mentally ill people, one who barricades in their apartment, talks to know one and goes no where,
    – A couple have Hep C and or HIV/AIDS
    – And one young individual with such severe health issues he has a life alert button around his neck
    – 3 residents have care takers that clean, run errands and take them to the hospital.

    These people went through the process and were supposed to be protected by the WHCHC.
    Are we really to believe that they would be even capable of finding other housing on their own
    or relocating back in after however long of construction?
    I find this more than shocking…

  18. The owner has to pay for the tenants to relocate as he will make a bundle on the sale of the property. It is old and needs to go. It would be different if it was a beautiful architecturally looking building but it isn’t and basically a huge eye sore. We need housing for the poor. To many living on the street.

  19. The bungalows as they are today provide 10 units of affordable housing.

    Demolishing the bungalows along with the other structure (they have already demolished) would only create 12 more units.

    Why can’t they create those 12 units on the land where they have already demolished a building?

    –the math: 10 (Detroit bungalows) + 12 (built on their open lot) = 22 (the number of units the WWCHC says they want on the site.

    The WWCHC is broke – could they be using developer and demo and construction contract kickbacks to fill their coffers?

  20. I’m not sure why the West Hollywood Community Housing Corp. owns property in Los Angeles and Glendale. Perhaps buildings outside WeHo should be sold and building in WeHo purchased. If these bungalows must be renovated to meet current standards, then the current residents should be provided housing and moving assistance to another WHCHC building in WeHo. Then when the new building is finished, those tenants would have first right of refusal to come back at their former rent. Alternatively, I don’t see why the bungalows can’t be renovated one by one and while a unit is being rehabbed, the resident could be relocated into a vacant unit at one of the other WHCHC buildings.

    If we can afford nearly $100 million for a new park, I think a modest contribution to affordable housing to keep these units in better condition is in order. Also, it seems clear that the fees paid by developers in lieu of on-site affordable housing are inadequate to keep up with current costs and demand.

  21. ” Our biggest focus now is taking care of the people on the site now,” she said. “There will be a generous benefits package (for those who might be forced to move because of construction), and I think they can all come back and live in the same building. Conerly said WHCHC representatives intend to meet with Detroit Bungalow residents and discuss their plans.”

    Translated = they don’t really care where they go

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