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Historic Architecture Abounds Amid Nationwide Homelessness

"I just think there is something to be said about affluent organizations discussing homes as a recreational hobby when we have countless people (students and taxpayers included) who can barely get approved for studio apartments."


I moved to Pasadena, California in September of 2002. Wilson Avenue. Bungalow Heaven. Being only 12 years-old at tha time, I had no idea that I was dwelling in a reputable community. Through my early teen years in Pasadena, I would notice that every now and again, members of the neighborhood would have an open-house tour. It took a few years before I caught on to what it was; seeing whole groups of strangers walking up tha streets I call home. As an youth and an outsider, it developed a sense of pride in me. You know, like, what are ya'll doing in my hood? lol

It was April 2006. I'm now 16 years-old. Bungalow Heaven's Home Tour was set up in McDonald Park and I was AWOL from my group home in Baldwin Park. I was virtually homeless, but I had "homies" that looked out for me back then. Me not knowing exactly what it was about, I walked up to the booths and started checking it out. I didn't understand it. It was something I wasn't formally introduced to yet. I soon came across the coffee and bagel table. But, I didn't see any fixings for tha coffee, so I thought it was kinda wack. About an hour or so later, I got arrested for something I won't mention in this article but it was completely unrelated to Bungalow Heaven's event. 


This was pretty much my first encounter with the BHNA (Bungalow Heaven Neighborhood Association). But, while I was being hauled off to juvenile camp, I still didn't understand what that event was. It didn't bother me much, but years come and gone would show me just how significant those home tours were. While I was locked up, I remember reading a Home-based magazine that just so happens to list something like the Top 10 Best Neighborhoods to live in around tha United States. Much to my surprise, Bungalow Heaven appeared #2 on that list just behind a neighborhood in Oregon that took it all. It hit me hard because tha people that were featured in tha article were...my neighbors on Wilson Avenue. I read tha whole article and felt so proud to have my neighborhood (that I technically wasn't even a part of) featured in a magazine let alone hitting the #2 spot. It made me feel proud to be from this part of town.

Fast forward to 2013. I'm 23 years-old and I start ThaWilsonBlock Magazine amongst other relative projects. I start doing conceptual street sign photography later that year and it led me to start paying closer attention to homes. I began to realize just how much of a "thing" historic architecture was. That there are huge organizations that help maintain tha integrity of an era that has become a treasure in today's society. I started to read up on tha different landmark districts and historically registered neighborhoods to know and understand their borders. I like to think I've acquired some of tha pride that comes with having such prestigious status as a neighborhood. I mean, it's one thing to have a historically registered home, but to have an entire neighborhood classified as such is a pretty big deal. I would walk the Historic Highlands. I would pass by Assembly Member Chris Holden's home in Orange Heights. 


Now, in 2013, I was dealing with homelessness. I was aware of tha architecture cult but I just wasn't there yet. My interest in wanting to learn more about historic architecture grew to tha point where I decided to reach out to Pasadena Heritage. Janet W. from Garfield Heights corresponded with me and offered to do an exclusive neighborhood tour with my photographer and I. We did an exclusive article interview with them and it turned out to be a great spread! Janet was even gracious enough to sponsor our membership for a year. But, then, life hit. I couldn't ignore how I was interested in something that was so special; something only a few people can really boast about. 

Homelessness throughout LA County has been severe since tha day I started actually paying attention. You'll hear a lot of preservation advocates insist on an open discussion now that our ancestors who've already done tha damage are gone. But, tha issue has a little more depth than that. See, homelessness is clearly a systemic problem. It was caused by inhumane business practices from Wall Street, insurance companies, realty firms, politicians, and so on. I mean, let's be real for a minute here. In a capitalist society, those who are without have no seat at tha table. Because of that, people throughout all generations alive today are left in a disposition. In my opinion, it starts at tha Federal level. But, without going too far back and into this thing, let's discuss on a local level. 

Over tha decades, industry and building has been an ever-growing activity. Firms are granted contracts and those contracts come with stipulations that must satisfy Federal administrative appetites. Now, you have big development companies wanting to buy and rebuild plots of land while a plethora of commercial real estate and residential apartments lay vacant. Yea, that big high-rise they're building around tha corner that has all tha construction delaying your travel every day. Your local politicians approved it while renters have little to no protection. It begs tha question to council men and women: how do you manage to close new development deals that impede on tha quality of life in tha city while, at tha same time, allowing tha displacement of your own citizens? Who's really benefitting here? Because it doesn't appear to be tha people being gentrified out. 


Now, with all that said, let's get back to historic architecture. I have a growing suspicion of these advocacy groups because tha people in possession of such properties most likely benefitted from tha poor and unfair practices around homes and developments in this country. I mean, again, let's get real for a minute here. Who in tha world would want to change something that works for them, right? Rich people in America don't want much to change because it was this very climate that got them to where they are at. It'll be war if you try to take it from them. 

I wrote this article because I thought it was worth mentioning that hey, "Historic Architecture Abounds Amid Nationwide Homelessness". I just think there is something to be said about affluent organizations discussing homes as a recreational hobby when we have countless people (students and taxpayers included) who can barely get approved for studio apartments. Is this tha type of America I was supposed to be proud of? Is this a country I should want to die for? Because when you're Black in America, there is nowhere to go, when there is nowhere to go. 

Thanks for reading. -Mistah Wilson

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