There's some resentment brewing down in Watts, where the Watts House Project was supposed to give makeovers to several of the houses around the Watts Towers. Residents and others are accusing founder Edgar Arceneaux of lagging on remodels, dropping some parts of the project altogether, and changing the terms of the agreements with homeowners, according to the LA Times. The nonprofit WHP has raised about $700,000 since it was founded three years ago, and it originally it planned "to have an artist-architect team 'partner' with each family across from the Watts Towers on East 107th Street to 'transform the interiors and exteriors, front and backyards of all 20 homes' on that block and 'reimagine the neighborhood,' to quote early mission statements." So far only three homeowners signed up for renovations, but not much has been done--painting, landscaping, and some mosaic murals by artist Augustine Aguirre that had nothing to do with the WHP. One house got a new wooden shed, a walkway, a new fence, and a new porch lamp, but the homeowner said the shed took more than six months to build and she's not interested in any more improvements.
Arceneaux blames the delays on unpermitted work in the houses and an IRS issue that's supposed to keep nonprofits from funneling money to individuals. To solve the tax problem, the group asked the residents to sign contracts "stipulating that they would 'reimburse' project costs should they ever sell their homes at a profit or do a cash-back refinancing, with the reimbursement not to exceed 50% of their profits."
Meanwhile, at least one family seems to just want out. A house directly across the street from the Towers, which looks to have gotten some kind of tent-like carport, is up for sale asking $135,000.
· Watts House Project under fire [LAT]
· 1774 E 107th St [Coldwell Banker]