More than 20 years later, Kendra is President of the Holiday Venice Tenant Action Committee, part of People Organized for Westside Renewal (POWER). Last year, she signed an historic $80 million settlement with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) that preserves Holiday Venice (a 15-building complex of 246 units) as affordable housing—a significant resource on L.A.’s not-so-affordable West Side.
Kendra, who works at the Boys and Girls Club of Santa Monica, lives in the Holiday Venice apartments which were built by HUD in the early 1970s. She watched her father’s house be torn down to make way for the housing project. She’s raised her four children there. But it hasn’t been easy to hang on to her roots.
“I would tell myself, Kendra this is your community, where you were born and raised, where your grandmother and grandfather who came from Texas lived. Why should you be pushed out? This neighborhood is where they let the colored people rent, because they didn’t allow us to live on the other side of Lincoln Boulevard.”
As a young adult in the community in the 1980s, she witnessed two changes that turned life into a nightmare: a sharp increase in drugs and violence, and pressure from gentrification.
Inside the building, “people were sleeping in the hallways,” she recalls, while outside the building, a real estate boom was on. “We started seeing people drive through in BMWs,” Kendra says. “This was not something we’d seen before.”