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.