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

Southern California’s Inland Empire:
Nowhere to Escape Rising Housing Prices

Mar 11, 2024

The Inland Empire, the vast suburbs extending east of Los Angeles and encompassing Riverside and San Bernardino counties, had long been considered a more affordable place to live, especially for working families looking to buy a home. Lower housing prices attracted millions of working families to these far-off suburbs, and the population boomed.

Of course, working families paid in other ways, including endless traffic jams, long commutes, and some of the worst air pollution in the country. Over the years, these problems only worsened as Amazon and other big shipping companies built enormous warehouses, turning the Inland Empire into an enormous warehouse and transportation hub.

But in 2020, in the wake of the COVID pandemic, home prices in the Inland Empire began to skyrocket. In 2023 alone, prices increased by almost 20% on average, making it increasingly impossible for many working families to own a home.

But priced-out Los Angeles area residents aren’t the only people looking to buy homes in the area. Quickly rising prices attracted speculators of all sorts. Private investors, operating under LLCs and trusts to hide their identities, as well as big financial companies, swooped down and spent tens of billions of dollars buying up private homes in the Inland Empire, thus driving the prices even higher.

These speculators then turned the homes into rental properties, and they not only boosted rents to record levels, but they also often squeezed every penny they could from these homes by not maintaining them, as well as resorting to evictions and court judgments.

So, not even in the far suburbs are housing prices affordable anymore; the problem is worsening. This means a basic and important need is increasingly out of reach for working families.

As David Brady, a public policy professor at the University of California at Riverside, commented, “There’s nothing rational, reasonable, or affordable about any aspect of California housing. You saw these problems become completely insane in L.A. in the past. Well, now they’re becoming insane in the Inland Empire as well.”