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:
Vanlords and Politicians’ Schemes about Homelessness

Aug 7, 2023

More than 11,000 people are living in RVs parked on streets across Los Angeles, as CNN recently reported. Many of the RV dwellers have jobs but can’t afford to pay rent in Los Angeles, where the median monthly rent is more than $2,900 for a two bedroom apartment, according to Zillow.

So, they live in these vans. Some RV dwellers own their vehicles, but others rent them on a monthly basis, ranging from a few hundred dollars to more than $1,000.

Pointing out that most of these RVs are beaten up and falling apart, city officials and politicians label the business owners that rent these RVs “vanlords,” and the politicians are moving to ban these vehicles from most city streets.

But what is the alternative? Where are these people supposed to live? The wages in Los Angeles are meager for big parts of the working class. For example, health care support jobs pay $17.58 an hour on average, barely above the minimum wage of $16.78. So, even RV rents can be relatively high for low-income workers.

The City of Los Angeles recently allocated $1.3 billion to supposedly “fight against homelessness.” If this money is directly distributed among people with housing issues, it could easily pay the $2,000 monthly rent of close to 55,000 families for a year. (The city estimated in 2022 that there were close to 70,000 homeless people. And this doesn’t even count the people living in the vans, since they are not considered homeless!)

But this is not the plan. The city channels this money to construction companies, hotel, and rental property owners, and other businesses that want to enrich themselves under the guise of solving homelessness and RV dwelling.

So, the working class is trapped by high housing costs, low wages, and scheming profiteers and politicians. Such a vicious trap leads to third-world conditions in one of the wealthiest cities in the world.