May 4, 2020
A group of homeless people, including families with children, took over 16 vacant homes in the El Sereno neighborhood of Los Angeles.
The houses they occupied are part of a much larger number owned by the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans), a publicly funded state agency. Many have been sitting vacant for years, if not decades.
Martha Escudero moved into one of the houses with her two young daughters, together with another mother of three children, and Benito Flores, a 64-year-old who had been living in his van.
Escudero, who had been living on couches with friends and family members for the last 18 months, said, “We all work and get paid, but what they call ‘affordable housing’ is not affordable for working people.”
Flores, who works as a welder, said, “Rents go up and wages don’t.” He also pointed out that Caltrans bought these houses with taxpayers’ money, adding, “These houses should belong to us; we worked for them.”