The Spark

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

Los Angeles:
Profits Drive People Out of Homes

Jun 7, 2021

Homelessness in Los Angeles is not due to a lack of housing. According to the latest official count, there are 41,290 homeless people in Los Angeles. At the same time, there are over 93,500 vacant housing units in Los Angeles, according to UCLA Law and two other research institutes. That is twice as many vacant housing units as the number of homeless people, at least according to the official statistics.

There are many reasons for these vacancies. Speculators purchase homes and condominiums as investments and leave them vacant, betting on long-term increases in property values. Some big landlords keep vacant apartments off the market in order to keep rents high. Other times, in rent control buildings, landlords leave buildings nearly empty for months or years at a time, while they drive out the old tenants in order to re-rent the units to new tenants at much higher prices. For all of these reasons, downtown L.A., where there is currently a building boom, has a vacancy rate of 22%.

Nor is the lack of affordable housing due to a lack of vacant land in Los Angeles. In reality, major real estate companies currently own 22 square miles of vacant lots just within the city of Los Angeles.

The main problem is that housing, like everything else under the capitalist system, is viewed as a profitable commodity for the wealthy few, regardless of the human cost.