Down on the corner of 6th and San Pedro, there’s a building named for Ben Weingart, and maybe his story could explain Skid Row a little better.
I don’t mean Ben Weingart’s “Horatio Alger” story of rising from orphanage and poverty to become one of LA’s richest people, and a major philanthropist.
I mean the other story, about how he was involved in first, making residential hotels in Downtown’s down and out areas, during the Depression.
Then, about how, after the war, he became a big suburban developer. One of his developments is the well known suburb of Lakewood, which may be coming to terms with its history of racism. They were a unique suburb, because, at the time, Jews were not allowed to live in white communities. They either lived in communities of color, or in “yellowlined” white communities that were mainly ethnic white.
Lakewood helped make suburbs available to Jewish people, but they used the then-common contract which forbade the buyer to re-sell the property to a nonwhite person.
Suburban bedroom communities used their cops like a taxi service, to send “undesirable” people to Skid Row.
For example, there was a scandal many years ago, when a mentally ill woman who was released from the hospital was driven to Skid Row, and “dumped“. You see a story like this every couple years.
I think it’s great that the Weingart center is doing things to address the needs of homeless people, because the money was made, partly, by a developer who helped to create Skid Row, as well.
Long Beach Fair Housing Foundation