by Bryan Sih.

The following is an experimental essay, combining fragments of the transcript of Khinn’s interview from the video (in italics), conducted at her home September 14, 2019 and the filmmaker’s reflections in the wake of COVID-19. 

A six-unit building at the edge of Chinatown and Echo Park is home to refugees, elderly, workers, and students. It has organized into the 920 Everett Tenant Association, becoming a loud voice of protest in the anti-gentrification movement and exposing the brokenness of LA’s housing system during the COVID-19 pandemic. As politicians claim to protect tenants with bills like AB 1482 or COVID-19-induced Eviction Moratoriums, 920 Everett’s revolving door of evictions prove the inadequacy of these efforts.

5:59 – I still remember what happened in Cambodia at that time 

6:15 – walk every single day – mile by mile, no shoe, only water 

8:00-  walk and run, lot of booby trap, mine, family, cut, die – one jungle to another 

On July 26, 2019, the tenants of 920 Everett received the first of three 60-Day eviction notices from a new owner. The previous landlords, Robert and Rosa Chow, a mom-and-pop Chinese family that lives in the San Gabriel Valley, sold the building to American Collateral Buyers, LLC, a Los Angeles-based real estate corporation, for several million dollars.

The Chinatown Community for Equitable Development (CCED) on their website states: “The eviction notices are part of a strategy for the corporation to start making a return on investment for their purchase of the building; in real estate language, American Collateral Buyers was attempting to achieve the advertised “upside potential of 120%.”

Rumor was that it was a parent’s gift to a recent graduate who wanted to get into real estate. The building was a prime target for a new predatory owner who would try to price these affordable units at market rate: it is not rent controlled, has no Section 8 units, and is not under a Rent Stabilized Ordinance (RSO). CCED states: “Since the building was naturally occurring affordable housing, as the previous landlord had voluntarily kept the rents low and stable for the working class and retired tenants, there were no legal protections in place for the tenants to maintain their rent levels.” Furthermore, its location right off Sunset Boulevard near gentrified areas of restaurants, shopping, and nightlife, as well its location near downtown, made it easy to market to young professionals with disposable income. The gentrifiers were coming.

8:51 – Our home has been destroyed. No more home we play. 

9:00 -mom found small house , so tired, so exhausted – “spend night here” 

9:23- mom found small roof but my mom sees 4 heads – killed – scared

9:44 – “kim can you go find water”

10:01 – mom clean blood off floor, bury head, pray, whoever you are give us a blessing. 

10:33- tired, no blanket – dad come because separated, dad comes, have rice, dried fish. 

11:00-  one week run out of supply, father and her walk back to countryside 

11:15 mango, any vegetable- 3 nights looking for food. 

11:30 – two sacks, pick food. 

11:41- we walk from 3am to 7pm afternoon. 

Author and Filmmaker Bio:

Bryan Sih is a filmmaker based in LA who does documentary and narrative content.

Editor’s Note:  Support the 920 Everett St. Tenants by signing this petition.

10 Comments

  1. David Nguyen on October 20, 2020 at 7:19 am

    There are no evictions occurring at 920 Everett Street (it’s not legally allowed and the owner has stated such), no tenant is being put out on the street during this pandemic, and the tenants are not paying any rent. You can confirm by looking at the tenants’ social media pages.
    https://www.change.org/p/los-angeles-920-everett-street-stop-the-lies-harassment-and-threats-of-violence

  2. Craig Wong on October 20, 2020 at 2:59 pm

    Let us respond to David Nguyen’s comment that “There’s no evictions occurring at 920 Everett Street”. While the sheriffs have not arrived to throw the tenants into the street, the developer who bought the building, Victoria Vu, has started the eviction process.

    The typical eviction process in California starts with the landlord issuing a 60 day quit notice, a notice that the tenants must move out within 60 days. Victoria issued a 60 day quit notice to all the tenants on February 13, 2020 and required the tenants to move out by April 13, 2020.

    If the tenants don’t move out in 60 days, the landlord can file in the courts for an unlawful detainer. If the landlord wins the case, the Sheriff will post a 5 day Notice to Vacate. If after 5 days, the tenants remain in their homes, the sheriffs can come and physically evict them. Because the eviction courts have been closed due to the pandemic, Vu has not yet filed for the unlawful detainer.

    So how do we know that Vu intends on moving forward to evict the tenants from their homes:

    1) The tenants have requested numerous times to meet with Vu to discuss the future of their homes but Vu has ignored their requests to talk. The only answer they received was from Vu’s attorney stating that only the attorney will meet with individual tenants and the only thing to discuss is moving out.

    2) The tenants have demanded that Vu rescind the 60-day quit notice. Vu has refused.

    3) Every month, the tenants attempt to pay their rent. Starting in April, Vu has sent back their checks uncashed. Vu knows that accepting rent will rescind the 60-day quit notice.

    Tenants at other Vu owned buildings are now speaking out about harassment by Vu, code violations and habitability issues. They have joined the 920 Everett tenants in demonstrating at Vu home and started a media campaign to expose Vu’s vulture developer practices. Students at USC and UCLA joined the campaign, targeting Jeremy Fink, Vu’s mentor and business partner. Fink is a USC board member with links to USC’s Lusk Center for Real Estate. The school newspaper, the Daily Trojan, featured an article titled: Letter to the Editor: The Trojan Family must oppose USC Board Member Jerome Fink’s predatory development

    https://dailytrojan.com/2020/09/24/letter-to-the-editor-the-trojan-family-must-oppose-usc-board-member-jerome-finks-predatory-development/

    The Chinatown Community for Equitable Developments (CCED) has been organizing Chinatown tenants for many years. We know an eviction when we see one. The tenants, their neighbors and residents in Chinatown know it as well. We’ll stop targeting Vu when she rescinds the 60-day quit notices, accepts the rent payments and guarantees that tenants can stay in their homes at affordable rents. Chinatown is simply not for sale.

    You can join us in this fight for justice — 920everett@gmail.com.

    CCED – Bryan Sih, Karen Law, Isabella McShane, Jason Li, Sophat Phea, Craig Wong

  3. Darrin Lim on October 23, 2020 at 9:01 pm

    I often hear the quote “Chinatown is not for sale” from the tenants and their supporters. Chinatown may not be for sale but the apartment building located at 920 Everett was actively listed for sale. One can simply google the property address and see dozens of listings advertising the property for sale. A buyer of this property is entitled to all ownership rights provided by local, state, and federal governments. I have seen no violation of laws with the property or it’s tenants. It appears the tenants are paying very low rents and would like to continue to enjoy these below market rents at the expense of the prior owners and current owners. Unfortunately we are not a socialist or community country.

  4. Tommy Duong on October 24, 2020 at 8:27 am

    I agree with Darrin Lim’s comment that the US is not a socialist or communist country. The tenants are all free to leave the property and rent at another apartment at another property. The tenants are not entitled to pay a very low rent at the expense of a private owner who has invested their hard earned money and acquired a private property. Why doesn’t CCEDLA help these tenants get on Section 8 or other government assisted housing? Why don’t do they do a fund raiser of all of their members and assist each tenant paying market rent? Why doesn’t CCEDLA do a fund raiser and raise a pool of money to go buy a property these same tenants can live at and pay low rents? The answer lies in the socialist agenda destroying this country – they want someone else to subsidize the tenants. https://www.change.org/p/los-angeles-920-everett-street-stop-the-lies-harassment-and-threats-of-violence

  5. John Kim on October 25, 2020 at 11:35 am

    The Chinatown Community for Equitable Development (CCED) has good intentions of helping those in need but like most socialist agendas end up hurting those they intended to help. They are trying very hard to discourage new housing development in the area which only serves to exacerbate the housing crisis as less new supply is built causing higher rents in the area. With less new housing being built, there are less jobs created in the area. It goes back to the free market economy – let new class A be built as it will add to the supply, create jobs, and provide for more supply which will lessen price pressure. Similar to the situation at 920 Everett Street, they are attempting to discourage private capital from renovating and improving the housing stock and creating jobs in the area. The end result of these efforts if successful are to have less new supply of apartments, higher rental rates for everyone, and the existing buildings are in poor condition. The markets with the strongest rent control in the country i.e. New York, San Francisco, Los Angeles, etc. also have the highest rents as these rent control measures don’t work.

  6. Karen Lim on October 25, 2020 at 4:03 pm

    Why should Victoria Vu subsidize the low rents the tenants st 920 Everett are paying? The burden should fall on the shoulders of the Chinatown Community for Economic Development who loudly advocate for a group of private individuals to pay rent that is less than everyone else has to pay. It’s easy to say someone else has to pay. I too side with the owner https://www.change.org/su/p/los-angeles-920-everett-street-stop-the-lies-harassment-and-threats-of-violence/

  7. David Lee on October 27, 2020 at 7:35 am

    This is really terrible what the tenants and CCEDLA has done to this owner. CCEDLA needs to focus on helping the tenants with getting better education and jobs so they can earn more money to pay market rents in the area not making a private owner (and Asian too) lose money to subsidize the tenants. https://www.change.org/su/p/los-angeles-920-everett-street-stop-the-lies-harassment-and-threats-of-violence/

  8. Craig Wong on October 27, 2020 at 9:46 am

    We believe that safe, affordable housing is a right, healthcare is a right, education is a right and healthy food is a right.

    This is why when Chinatown’s only hospital closed, we fought for and won a medical facility on that site. That’s why we supported the teachers when they went on strike and helped to stop a charter school from moving into Castelar School, Chinatown’s only elementary school. This is why we distributed thousands of free meals, masks and hand sanitizer to Chinatown residents impacted by the pandemic. And yes, this is why we refuse to allow the 920 Everett tenants or any other tenants to be thrown out of their homes.

    Now there are others, maybe like Tommy Duong and Darrin Lim, who think that housing, healthcare, education and food are reserved only for those wealthy enough to afford it. They decry any attempt at human decency as “radical” and “socialist”.

    We’ve stated what we believe and why we do the work we do. Our work stands on its own. We’re not going to continue to trade comments with people like Tommy Duong and Darrin Lim in East Wind.

    In the real world, what it comes down to is: will we allow developers to throw Dieu Pham, a 70 year old, long time resident of Chinatown who everyone calls grandma, out onto the streets because the developer wants more profits? Everyone must decide, which side are you on?

    If you stand with the tenants at 920 Everett, sign the petition supporting the tenants: https://www.change.org/p/stop-predator-vf-developments-keep-the-920-everett-tenants-in-their-homes

    CCED – Bryan Sih, Karen Law, Isabella McShane, Jason Li, Sophat Phea, Craig Wong

  9. David Lam on November 13, 2020 at 8:21 am

    After reading all of the change.org petitions regarding 920 Everett Street I would side with the owner and not the tenants of 920 Everett Street. The 920 Everett Street tenants have enjoyed the benefits of living at the property for very cheap rents and are now harassing and threatening the owner while living rent free taking advantage of the Los Angeles eviction moratoriums. https://change.org/p/los-angeles-920-everett-street-stop-the-lies-harassment-and-threats-of-violence

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