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Oct 15, 19

California Landlords Are Rushing to Evict People Before Rent Control Law Hits – Here’s How People Are Fighting Back

Report from Los Angeles, on how landlords are mobilizing to evict renters in the lead up to the passing of State wide rent control.

In an effort to placate the growing anger of renters, the state in California is set to pass a rent control law, which will go into effect in January. Landlords have been up in arms about how this will limit their ability to pass enormous monthly rent increases or carry out evictions against tenants whenever they feel like it. In retaliation the landlords have banded together, deciding to evict any tenant they can and raise rents as much as possible and by any means necessary before January. This move shows how stupid this bourgeois class really is, as now it is forcing the city to respond with a likely moratorium on evictions. But enough about the State…

On Sunday, October 13th the tenant association of 11815 Gilmore St. and tenants facing evictions from a building in Van Nuys converged on the North Hollywood Transit Station for an action against the wave of evictions that have been served by LA landlords as a retaliatory strike against the AB 1482 law that will come into effect January 2020.

The action was carried out by about 30+ tenants and their families and began with a march around the newly gentrified area around the No.Ho. station. Tenants gathered behind their banners and blocked parts of street traffic as they marched around the “Arts District” of North Hollywood. This area is host to a dense concentration of new condos and chain-retail operations that visually signifies the unethical unjust, and unwarranted effects of gentrification that have resulted in displacement for many tenant families and their relatives and friends. The “Arts Disctrict” has gone from being a fairly undeveloped place home to many Latinx families, to being a collection of ugly cookie-cutter gentrify-style housing units and is now predominantly white and upper middle class. These results of gentrification play out again and again across the city and can be accurately described as ethnic cleansing.

Our march included a stop at local councilman Paul Krekorian’s office. The tenants gave speeches about the lack of action or regard for the situation on the part of the local government, the utter evil nature of landlords evicting whole apartment complexes (like the situation of the Van Nuys tenants) and how taking matters into their own hands was the only way to secure their housing and enact real change for future generations and their children. Also, the children were out in full force learning important lessons about fighting in solidarity at young ages.

“The fact that landlords have decided to carry out such a blatantly cruel and reactionary retaliation on working people for law passed by the state demonstrates how more work must continue to carry on outside of the bounds of the law in order to ensure secure housing for the working class people of Los Angeles.”

Krekorian’s field aides had made contact with the 11815 Gilmore tenants in months prior. The field agent had the tenacity to ask tenants of 11815 why they would bother with rent striking when the city could protect them and also why be mad when their rent was already below “market value.” This was met with responses by tenants pointing out that the conditions and exploitation at their complex had continued to increase unchecked until they formed their association. Tenants also reminded the field agent of previous attempts to get city involved that yielded no results at all: it was only actions carried out in solidarity that got anything done at their complex.

By forming an association the tenants got their former racist on-site manager fired, and got rent increases rescinded, got repairs made. The tenants may have gone to the council office with hope at first, but after interacting with them were quick to reflect that Krekorian works for landlords and not the working people in his district.

The action was a crucial exercise for solidarity building among struggling tenants and for making sure gentrifiers of North Hollywood know exactly what cost their new and “trending” homes come at. Some white gentrifiers were acknowledging their place as agents of displacement when they responded negatively to our actions. One cis-man gentrifier even had the tenacity to tell the tenants to “protest peacefully.” Perhaps this person has never looked at a history book or the news ever.

An action like ours that involved no real direct confrontational action can certainly be classified as peaceful. However, the responses this colonizer received from the predominantly Latinx, and Black tenants were not at all peaceful. Confronted with a large and disagreeing crowd, this person quickly became visibly nervous and had to retreat with their concerned partner. We reminded them as they backed away that an unpeaceful action may one day become necessary.

Tenants successfully made the message clear: “You will not evict us easily or one by one, you will have to fight us all and our movement grows in numbers by the day.” The fact that landlords have decided to carry out such a blatantly cruel and reactionary retaliation on working people for law passed by the state demonstrates how more work must continue to carry on outside of the bounds of the law in order to ensure secure housing for the working class people of Los Angeles.

Landlords have wasted no time in demonstrating that they won’t hesitate to throw vulnerable people into houselessness and will stop at nothing in their coldblooded pursuit of profit. This situation shows that the state cannot not hold landlords fully accountable for their actions despite passing new laws. As the state tries to heal a massive gash with a mere band-aid, we will remain ready for action with our guard up.

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