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Open Access Publications from the University of California


Cover page of Who Profits from Crisis? Housing Grabs in Time of Recovery

Who Profits from Crisis? Housing Grabs in Time of Recovery


In Los Angeles, and across the United States, the COVID-19 pandemic has expanded and exposed social and economic inequalities. It has also become starkly apparent that such inequalities are structured through racialized risk, the disproportionate and systematic exposure of working-class communities of color to unemployment, unsafe jobs, eviction, homelessness, displacement, and wealth loss. In this research brief, we draw attention to how crisis serves as the opportunity for housing grabs, by which we mean the unregulated acquisition of residential property by powerful corporate actors. With a focus on Los Angeles, we show how the Great Recession set the stage for a significant expansion of the corporate control of residential property in working-class communities of color and argue that there will be a similar capitalization of distress in such communities over the next few years. Dispensing of the myth of “mom and pop landlords,” we provide the first robust analysis of the different types of corporate landlords active in Los Angeles and the varied strategies of profit-making that they deploy in wealth accumulation.

Cover page of For the Crisis Yet to Come: Temporary Settlements in the Era of Evictions

For the Crisis Yet to Come: Temporary Settlements in the Era of Evictions


For the Crisis Yet to Come: Temporary Settlements in the Era of Evictions is the final report in a three-part series on housing justice and evictions during COVID-19, prepared and published by the UCLA Luskin Institute on Inequality and Democracy. In keeping with guidance from unhoused people, legal advocates, and community-based researchers, this report strongly advises governments to sanction existing self-organized communities of unhoused people and maintain sanitation stations on-site. Additionally, this report cautiously recommends that area governments establish sanctioned and serviced temporary settlements, where tents and tiny structures can offer private, socially distanced forms of shelter to unhoused people. These recommendations are made with deep reservations, and with clear stipulations: settlements such as these should only be implemented alongside other, better measures; their existence does not justify sweeps of existing self-organized encampments; residence within these settlements must be voluntary, not compulsory; these sites should not be heavily policed or surveilled; and they are only appropriate as temporary forms of emergency shelter. This report is offered as guidance for policymakers and organizers alike seeking to better support housing insecure and unhoused people during and after the pandemic.

Cover page of Hotel California: Housing the Crisis

Hotel California: Housing the Crisis


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.

Cover page of UD Day: Impending Evictions and Homelessness in Los Angeles

UD Day: Impending Evictions and Homelessness in Los Angeles


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.

Cover page of Metodologías para la justicia de la vivienda: Guia de recursos

Metodologías para la justicia de la vivienda: Guia de recursos


Esta Guía de Recursos es el resultado de un Instituto de Verano sobre Metodologías para la Justicia en la Vivienda convocado por el Instituto sobre Desigualdad y Democracia de UCLA Luskin como parte de la Red de Justicia en la Vivienda en Ciudades Desiguales, que es apoyada por la Fundación Nacional de Ciencias (BCS 1758774). Celebrado en Los Ángeles en agosto de 2019, el Instituto de Verano reunió a participantes de ciudades de todo el mundo. Al igual que el alcance y el propósito general de la Red de Justicia en las Ciudades Desiguales, creó un terreno compartido de para estudiosos del movimiento y académicos de universidades. Con una insatisfacción a los métodos canónicos que se utilizan en los estudios sobre la vivienda y guiado por los movimientos de justicia de la vivienda que son comunidades de investigación activa, el Instituto de verano se basó en la afirmación de que la metodología es política. La metodología se basa en argumentos sobre el mundo e implica relaciones de poder y conocimiento. El método por sí mismo -ya sea el contra ataque al mapeo o los diarios de la genteno asegura una ética de solidaridad y un propósito de justicia. Tales objetivos requieren metodologías para la liberación. Por lo tanto, como es evidente en esta Guía de Recursos, nuestro esfuerzo pone en primer plano los métodos innovadores que están siendo utilizados por los investigadores en todo el mundo académico y el activismo y sitúa explícitamente tales métodos en una orientación hacia la vivienda la justicia.

Cover page of Methodologies for Housing Justice Resource Guide

Methodologies for Housing Justice Resource Guide


This Resource Guide is the outcome of a Summer Institute on Methodologies for Housing Justice convened by the Institute on Inequality and Democracy at UCLA Luskin as part of the Housing Justice in Unequal Cities Network, which is supported by the National Science Foundation (BCS 1758774). Held in Los Angeles in August 2019, the Summer Institute brought together participants from cities around the world. As is the case with the overall scope and purpose of the Housing Justice in Unequal Cities Network, it created a shared terrain of scholarship for movement-based and university-based scholars. Dissatisfied with the canonical methods that are in use in housing studies and guided by housing justice movements that are active research communities, the Summer Institute was premised on the assertion that methodology is political. Methodology is rooted in arguments about the world and involves relations of power and knowledge. The method itself – be it countermapping or people’s diaries – does not ensure an ethics of solidarity and a purpose of justice. Such goals require methodologies for liberation. Thus, as is evident in this Resource Guide, our endeavor foregrounds innovative methods that are being used by researchers across academia and activism and explicitly situates such methods in an orientation towards housing justice.

Cover page of The Power of Debt: Identity and Collective Action in the Age of Finance

The Power of Debt: Identity and Collective Action in the Age of Finance


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?

Cover page of Housing Justice in Unequal Cities

Housing Justice in Unequal Cities


Housing Justice in Unequal Cities is a global research network funded by the National Science Foundation (BCS 1758774) and housed at the Institute on Inequality and Democracy at UCLA Luskin. This open-access volume, co-edited by Ananya Roy and Hilary Malson, brings together movement-based and university-based scholars to build a shared field of inquiry focused on housing justice. Based on a convening that took place in Los Angeles in January 2019, at the LA Community Action Network and at the University of California, Los Angeles, the essays and interventions situate housing justice in the long struggle for freedom on stolen land. Embedded in the stark inequalities of Los Angeles, our work is necessarily global, connecting the city’s Skid Row to the indebted and evicted in Spain and Greece, to black women’s resistance in Brazil, to the rights asserted by squatters in India and South Africa. Learning from radical social movements, we argue that housing justice also requires a commitment to research justice. With this in mind, our effort to build a field of inquiry is also necessarily an endeavor to build epistemologies and methodologies that are accountable to communities that are on the frontlines of banishment and displacement.

Cover page of Black, Brown, and Powerful: Freedom Dreams in Unequal Cities

Black, Brown, and Powerful: Freedom Dreams in Unequal Cities


In April 2018, the Institute on Inequality and Democracy convened scholars, activists, policy advocates, community residents, and nonprofit workers to share and discuss research and action pertaining to processes of inequality in Los Angeles. We sought to shed light on the entangled structures of oppression, including urban displacement, housing precarity, racialized policing, criminal justice debt, forced labor, and the mass supervision and control of youth. Through keynote talks, group dialogue, and workshops, we analyzed how in Los Angeles, and elsewhere, black and brown communities face multiple forms of banishment and exploitation ranging from the criminalization of poverty to institutionalized theft.

The question of racial banishment has been an important one for the Institute since its inauguration two years ago. This year though, amidst the troubled times of Trumpism, we wanted to shift our focus from banishment to freedom. In the reports that follow, you will find many examples of what Robin D.G. Kelley, a key presence at the Institute, has famously called “freedom dreams.” Located in, and thinking from South Central Los Angeles, the event’s participants provide insight into organizing frameworks and resistance strategies that challenge exclusion and refuse subordination. From tenant organizing to debtors’ unions, from underground scholars to educational reparations, visions of freedom abound. The Institute on Inequality and Democracy is convinced that university-based research can, and must, support such freedom dreams. Such partnership – between the public university and social justice movements – requires careful attention to the difficult task of decolonizing the university. This mandate is evident throughout this collection of reports. There is no easy alliance between academic power and banished communities; there is no obvious solidarity between urban plans and freedom dreams. This event was intended to be a step towards building such alliances, especially by reconstructing the curriculum and canon of knowledge.

Cover page of Race and Capitalism: Global Territories, Transnational Histories

Race and Capitalism: Global Territories, Transnational Histories


In October 2017, the Institute on Inequality and Democracy at UCLA Luskin in partnership with the Center for the Study of Race, Politics, and Culture at the University of Chicago convened a symposium on the theme, “Race and Capitalism: Global Territories, Transnational Histories.” A part of the national Race and Capitalism project led by Michael Dawson and Megan Ming Francis, the symposium sought to highlight how the study of racial capitalism in the United States must be situated in the long history of global systems of colonialism, imperialism, and development. With this in mind, the program was organized around four key themes: diasporas of racial capitalism; the land question; imperialism and its limits; race, capitalism, and settler-colonialism. Bringing together scholars from many different institutions, the symposium was also a space for shared work across different disciplines in the social sciences and humanities. Writings and presentations by four scholars, Nathan Connolly, Keisha-Khan Perry, Allan Lumba, and Alyosha Goldstein, anchored a day of debate and dialogue. This collection provides a glimpse of their key provocations as well as of the questions and comments posed by invited interlocutors. It is not a culmination but instead a benchmark in the ongoing efforts to build collaborative scholarship concerned with race and capitalism. Central to our concerns has been the question of what this might mean for a new generation of curriculum and pedagogy and for the next generation of scholars, our graduate students. We hope that the conceptual and methodological frameworks and interrogations presented here are useful in the endeavor of speaking back to our disciplines and speaking across our disciplines.