Tenants of the Holiday Venice Apartments and local community members held a rally and candlelight vigil at the Oakwood Recreation Center in Venice Thursday, February 19th to protest the loss of affordable housing in the community.

The rally participants said they intended to highlight how the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) is allegedly “empowering for-profit owners to gentrify Venice and destroy the historically African American and Latino Oakwood Neighborhood of Venice.

The 246-unit Holiday Venice Apartments complex provides Section 8 housing throughout 15 buildings. Section 8 is a federal housing program that provides housing assistance through rental subsidies to low-income renters and homeowners.

The rally participants said they have initiated a campaign to buy the Holiday Venice complex in order to preserve it.

Among the speakers at the event were Los Angeles Unified School District Board candidate Steve Zimmer, representatives from City Councilman Bill Rosendahl’s office, pastor Rich Braaksma of the Venice Beach Fellowship, Kendra Moore and Crystal Coleman of the Holiday Venice Tenant Action Committee, longtime community resident Pamela Anderson, and People Organized for Westside Renewal member Jaime Zeledon.

The Holiday Venice complex was financed by HUD and built in the 1970s to provide low-income housing to Venice residents in need. People Organized for Westside Renewal members claim that property owner Gregory Perlman has requested to prepay his HUD mortgages and lift the restrictions guaranteeing low-income affordability, and the department has endorsed the proposal.