The Spark

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.” — Karl Marx

The L.A. Housing Crunch

Sep 4, 2017

In Los Angeles, there is a shrinking supply of affordable housing, even as the population grows. And this shortage has not been alleviated by the huge construction boom over the last few years, since almost all of this construction is for high-end or luxury apartments – that is, the most profitable for real estate developers, construction companies, banks and other lenders.

This lack of affordable housing has allowed landlords to jack up the rent to record levels, with the average rent for a two-bedroom apartment close to $2,600 per month – which most working families can’t afford. A new study finds that one in six households, or more than half a million households, spent more than half of their income for rent, leaving them little left over to pay for other necessities, like food, health care, transportation, etc.

This lack of affordable housing has also driven a record high increase in homelessness. According to the official count, there were 56,000 homeless last year, a 13 percent increase over the previous year. And, no doubt, this is a severe undercount, as many who are living in their cars or campers, couch surfing, or doubling and tripling up with family and friends were not counted. Still more working people are living in substandard or illegal living spaces, like garages or shacks. And still others are being forced to commute 90 miles or more each way to get to work, that is, at a tremendous cost in both money and time.

So, the very way that various parts of the capitalist class profit off of housing has created a worsening housing crisis for big parts of the working class.