The UCLA Luskin Institute on Inequality and Democracy advances radical democracy in an unequal world through research, critical thought, and alliances with social movements and racial justice activism. We analyze and transform the divides and dispossessions of our times, in the university and in our cities, across global South and global North.
Los Angeles is on the cusp of a surge in evictions and homelessness, with thousands of households impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic likely to lose their housing. They will join the many thousands of Angelenos who are already unhoused in what is likely to be one of the largest mass displacements to unfold in the region. Black and Brown communities will bear the brunt of the crisis. Where will the currently unhoused and the newly unhoused go? Given the political failure to enact the tenant protections that would keep people in their homes, what are the plans for housing provision that must be put into place, without further ado, in order to meet this crisis? This report, the second publication in our Housing Justice in the Time of COVID-19 series, answers these pressing questions by laying out a comprehensive framework for the conversion of hospitality properties into housing through the large-scale public acquisition of tourist hotels and motels. We insist on immediate access to housing without conditions and with the guarantees of habitability and tenant rights. In addition, we argue for the conversion of such hotels and motels into social housing. In Los Angeles, publicly subsidized hotel development has mediated an extractive relationship between capital and community. It is time to redirect public resources and public purpose tools such as eminent domain for housing, especially in Black and Brown communities where public investment has primarily taken the form of policing and where the devastation of impending evictions will be most acutely felt.
Well before the COVID-19 pandemic, Los Angeles was a hotspot of growing homelessness and severe housing insecurity for renter households. A stark manifestation of race and class inequality, this crisis is now set to get much worse. This UCLA Luskin Institute on Inequality and Democracy report, UD Day: Impending Evictions and Homelessness in Los Angeles, authored by Gary Blasi, Professor Emeritus at UCLA Law, projects a surge in evictions and homelessness that will follow the lifting of COVID-19 emergency orders. As argued in the report, and as repeatedly noted by community organizations and legal and policy advocates, such devastation could have been avoided through robust tenant protections, rent relief, and eviction moratoria at local, state, and federal levels of government. The first publication in our Housing Justice in the Time of COVID-19 series, the report foregrounds the urgency of organizing and pressing public officials at all levels of government to plan and prepare for a potential humanitarian disaster of hunger and homelessness on a scale not seen in any urban area of any industrialized country in the past 90 years.
The Debt Collective is organized around the possibility for radical action within and against finance capitalism. In the wake of the 2008 financial crisis it was often hard to understand how finance intersected with the everyday lives of ordinary—and especially, poor—people. But in the years since, it has become increasingly clear that mass indebtedness—from the mortgage crisis to student debt, criminal “justice” fines and fees to municipal austerity—is a direct effect of the conflict between debt payments generating value as securitized investments (mortgage backed securities, municipal bond offerings) vs. their role in providing shelter, food, and the ability to merely get by. In the age of finance, debt has become an immersive, systemic problem; but it is one that, in its ubiquity, may hold the seeds of its own solutions. As oil tycoon JP Getty famously quipped: “If you owe the bank $100 that’s your problem. If you owe the bank $100 million, that’s the bank’s problem.” Student debt alone stands today at 1.5 trillion dollars. Together, arguably, we can be the banks’ problem. This is the provocation of the Debt Collective: how can we reframe debt from an issue of isolation and shame to a platform for collective action and political mobilization?