The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

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

Los Angeles:
No Housing for the Homeless

Apr 11, 2022

One year after authorities cleared a homeless encampment at Echo Park in Los Angeles, more than 90% of the former residents of the encampment have not received long-term housing, according to a report published by the UCLA Luskin Institute on Inequality and Democracy.

When, in March 2021, the LAPD forcefully evacuated the homeless people from Echo Park, authorities signed up 183 of the camp’s residents for a “placement list,” promising them housing—which turned out to be an empty promise. The UCLA study found that only 17 of these 183 people remained in long-term housing. Of the rest, the study found that the L.A. Homeless Services Authority (LAHSA) has lost contact with 82 of them. Considering that more than 200 people were actually camping at Echo Park before the LAPD cleared it, LAHSA has not even kept in touch with more than half of them.

The majority of the evacuees were initially placed in hotel rooms within the framework of what was called “Project Roomkey,” funded with federal money. But it took some of the people less than a week to return to living on the streets. The most common reason was isolation. People were sent many miles away from anybody they knew or any support services available to them.

In other words, this “Project Roomkey” was just a gimmick. And as for permanent housing for homeless people, it’s just not there—despite years of promises from authorities. So when residents of an area complain about homeless people or their encampments, the authorities just send in the LAPD, rough up and arrest people who resist, and clear the area by force. The homeless then are left on their own again, looking for a new spot to pitch their tent on.

The officials knew it was going to end up like this because the conditions themselves are only getting worse. LAHSA itself is expecting double-digit increases for this year. They forecast the official homeless count to pass 80,000 in 2022 as compared to 60,000 in 2019. In a report last year, the Economic Round Table provided a more accurate picture of homelessness by including people who “couch surf”. The study predicted total homelessness to increase from 150,011 in 2019 to 194,487 in 2022.

Homelessness is a huge social crisis driven by low wages and high rents—by the normal workings of the capitalist system, that is, since these are two things business and property owners do to increase their profit. Politicians and government officials will not solve this problem, because they actually front for capital, and especially big capital. That’s why even the money that’s allocated for housing just goes to developers, with nowhere nearly enough housing materializing.

The cruelty of homelessness and its ever-increasing presence shows the incapacity of the capitalist class and their politicians at addressing a crisis of their own doing.