Report cover of diverse crowd of people protesting for housing affordability alongside photo of USC event signers
Economic Inclusion and Climate Equity

September 16, 2015

By Manuel Pastor, Vanessa Carter, Alejandro Sanchez-Lopez, and Robert Chlala

Please note: reports dated earlier than June 2020 were published under our previous names: the USC Program for Environmental and Regional Equity (PERE) or the USC Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration (CSII).

Planning, Power, and Possibilities tells the story behind two community benefits negotiations forged by the United Neighbors in Defense Against Displacement (UNIDAD) coalition in South Central Los Angeles.

Private redevelopment is in full tilt in downtown Los Angeles—and cities across the nation—but with what is often welcome progress also comes unequal gains and potential problems of displacement. In two community organizing victories, UNIDAD has proven that community organizations and private developers can forge a shared future, using tools like community benefits agreements (legal agreements on new real estate development projects).

In two agreements—one with developer G.H. Palmer Associates in 2011 and a second with the University of Southern California (USC) in 2012—UNIDAD negotiated for concrete community benefits including a new health clinic, living wage jobs, and $20 million for affordable housing, among other things.

In this report, we put those particular agreements in a broader context, showing how histories matter, movements matter, and models matter for achieving mutually beneficial wins and building inclusive, diverse, and vibrant cities.

The project was made possible through funding from The California Endowment and the James Irvine Foundation and the time and insight of the UNIDAD coalition, the University of Southern California, the City of Los Angeles, and G.H. Palmer Associates.

“Planning, Power, and Possibilities”

  • Histories Matter: UNIDAD was successful because they had been in South Central for the past two decades, building relationships with residents and USC
  • Movements Matter: UNIDAD was able to secure community benefits from real estate developments because they used a social-movement approach
  • Models Matter: Social-movement organizations, like UNIDAD, can shape equitable development in metros across the nation



Read our other publications by research area

    Immigrant Integration & Racial Justice

    Our work on immigrant integration and racial justice brings together three emphases: scholarship that draws on academic theory and rigorous research, data that provides information structured to highlight the process of immigrant integration over time, and engagement that seeks to create new dialogues with government, community organizers, business and civic leaders, immigrants and the voting public to advance immigrant integration and racial equity.

    Economic Inclusion & Climate Equity

    In the area of economic inclusion, we at ERI advance academic theory and practical applications linking economic growth, environmental quality, and civic health with bridging of racial and other gaps; produce accessible and actionable data and analysis through the data tools; and establish research partnerships to deepen and advance the dialogue, planning, and actions around racial equity, environmental justice, and the built environment.

    Social Movements & Governing Power

    ERI’s work in the area of governing power includes: conducting cross-disciplinary studies of today’s social movements, supporting learning and strategizing efforts to advance dialogues among organizers, funders, intermediaries, evaluators, and academics, and developing research-based social change frameworks and tools to inform—and be informed by—real-world, real-time efforts towards a vision of deep change.

    Publications Directory

    In 2020, the USC Program for Environmental and Regional Equity (PERE) and the USC Center for the Study of Immigrant Integration (CSII) merged to form the USC Equity Research Institute (ERI).

    The full list of publications published under our previous and current names can be found in our publications directory.

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