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The student news site of California State University - Los Angeles

University Times

The student news site of California State University - Los Angeles

University Times

Lincoln Heights’ community feel offsets recent crime and gentrification, residents say

Saira Altamirano sits in the lobby of the church. Photo by Gisselle Mauricio.

A rise in violence. An increase in rent. The need to remodel parks.

Those are some issues Lincoln Heights residents say their neighborhood needs help with. The area is also known for its historic landmarks and for being one of the oldest neighborhoods in L.A. but residents and shopkeepers say that reputation can sometimes be overshadowed by some of the newer problems.

Lincoln Heights resident Marisol Acevedo has lived in the area her whole life and has seen many changes in the community, especially an increase in both housing demand and rental prices. For instance, she said a neighbor across the street from her has divided her house and put the different parts up for rent.

“It’s a single apartment [with] tenants coming in and out, and once they move out they all complain that her rent is too high,” Acevedo said.

The Lincoln Heights community has also recently struggled when it comes to feeling safe when roaming the area or playing at the local park.

It comes with no surprise that with the remodeling of park Downey Rec. Center, more people are interested to visit, but this also raises interest to outsiders with malicious intents.

Saira Altamirano, a leader of Centro De Adoracion Ebenezer church in Lincoln Heights, said she has seen what appears to be criminal activity while on her way to morning service. One example: “As I was driving, I just happened to turn around to my left and when I turned, there was a body laying down on the floor and there was a white sheet on top of it.”

Acevedo said she hears of crimes frequently in and around Lincoln Heights and added that there seems to be a decline in law enforcement presence in the area in recent years.

About one month after two kids at a street fair were shot, she said police “kinda stopped carrying or roaming down the streets of Lincoln Heights.”

She said it has made her and others more aware of their surroundings and some people she knows even started carrying pepper spray: “It makes it hard for women to freely roam around in the neighborhood without being scared of what might occur.”

The Hollenbeck Community Police station, which serves the Lincoln Heights area, could not be reached for comment despite multiple calls. But the website,, which says it collects information from FBI data and police departments, reports that Lincoln Heights is “in the 22nd percentile for safety, meaning 78% of neighborhoods are safer and 22% of neighborhoods are more dangerous” than their nearby neighborhoods.

On top of the incidents she has seen, Altamirano said some new shops in the neighborhood — like “sip and wine places” — seem to be paving the way for gentrification.

“In a Latino culture or in the Latino community, that’s usually not a place where you would see” people go, she said.

Altamirano said the new shops may seem nice but they can affect the people and even the church deeply. “It makes rents rise or the area becomes a little bit more high priced,” she said.

Housing costs have increased dramatically over the years and even increased this past year. The average rent in August 2023 for a one-bedroom apartment in the neighborhood was $2,373, or 14% more than it was last year, according to Zumper, which is the largest North American privately owned rental platform.

That said, residents say some of the original or older flavor of Lincoln Heights remains.

Acevedo, who identifies as Latina, appreciates Latinx items sold at liquor stores at the end of each corner of her neighborhood: “The little snacks remind us of who we are as a neighborhood and what our culture is.”

Altamirano’s church congregation also keeps her connected and they generally still do see “a lot of Latinos around the community.”

She said that the community members tend to look after each other, including the homeless people who live under the bridge near the church: “It’s a community that uplifts each other.”

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  • T

    Tony MostromMar 12, 2024 at 5:04 pm

    Journalists almost all function as propagandists. And we are left to read between the lines and fill in the blanks to discover what is really being said.

  • M

    MarioDec 30, 2023 at 1:36 pm

    Lincoln Heights started out as a predominantly affluent Italian neighborhood, not a hispanic neighborhood. If we’re going to talk about gentrification, let’s be real and acknowledge the neighborhood’s original “culture”. Residents in Lincoln Heights seem to love to gloss over this fact.

  • V

    VincentOct 11, 2023 at 8:04 am

    I did not know gentrification was associated with increased crime.