CityWatch columnist Tim Deegan surveys Los Angeles’ affordable housing and gentrification crises and sees tenants’ groups rising up in resistance. It’s been brought on by L.A. City Hall’s planning and land-use policies that make millions for developers, but leave behind longtime residents who can’t afford luxury condos and apartments.
Deegan writes: “In less stressful times, the relationships between tenants and landlords were ruled by the market economy of supply and demand. Lately, however, affordable housing has entered a state of crisis, as space is needed to squeeze in more people who want to live here or park their money in real estate investment. A third wheel has been attached to the landlord-tenant equation: developers eager to make their profits in a booming upscale housing market is leaving many renters in the dust.
“We see construction cranes everywhere in the skyline, signaling a massive expansion of housing, although not much of it is worth anything to middle income tenants, the very people who are being routinely evicted to make room for bigger, more expensive housing.
“The new normal has nothing to do with landlord-tenant relationships. But it has everything to do with financiers, some from out of town and often not from the neighborhoods they seek to transform as they back new housing developments, evicting tenants and tearing down existing housing. Tenure of residency is worthless — a day or a decade as a tenant makes no difference, except possibly in the payout to leave.
“Every tenant is a target for a developer with a bankroll prepared to use the Ellis Act to evict tenants and give their victims ‘cash for keys.’ Most vulnerable are those in rent stabilized housing, a cousin of affordable housing.”