HOUSE EVICTION - We are heartbroken and outraged by the news of a tenant in Hollywood who tragically took their own life in the face of losing their home when 2 sheriff officers, a building manager, and a locksmith showed up at their door to forcibly evict them.
Sheriffs called LAPD, they spent 6 hours preparing for a standoff, making no attempt to contact the tenant. Sheriffs referred to the tenant as a “suspect”, mobilized a multi-million dollar militarized presence into the neighborhood, evacuated neighbors, and created a stage to criminalize the eviction victim.
We don’t know the details, we don’t know the victim. However, according to the news there was a rent increase a couple of months ago. We know and understand the violence of eviction. We experience the outrageous rent increases and know the stories of landlords and corporations manipulating, threatening, and harassing tenants into self eviction. We attend court proceedings where tenants, without attorneys, confront cold-hearted and abusive judges and landlords. We witness evictions that escalate into 5150s where the Sheriffs could use their discretion and leave a vulnerable person in their home, but instead terrorize tenants and the entire neighborhood. The story becomes reduced to “a tenant in crisis.” More accurately, they are the victims of a crisis perpetuated by the city government, by the landlords, by the courts, and by the police state. People are afraid of living in the streets and being criminalized by rules like 41.18, prohibiting people from existing in public spaces. Long before the COVID-19 pandemic, people couldn’t afford their rents, and so-called affordable housing is not affordable or accessible to the poorest tenants. Tenants know that if they are evicted, there will be nowhere for them to go.
The tenant who died today was not a suspect. Living in their home was not a crime. The crisis forced them into a position where they felt they needed to choose to take their own life as opposed to living a life without shelter. The blame for this loss of life lies with the state who has made it illegal to live on the street; who refuses to provide protections for tenants in danger of losing their housing; and who contract out their armed forces to landlords criminalizing tenants who can’t pay rents that are based on arbitrary and speculative markets.
There are thousands of empty apartments and empty lots in Los Angeles, where people without homes could live. Outside of emergency protections there is no help for senior citizens, the sick and disabled, and the unemployed who cannot pay rent. But more importantly there is no leadership from the city to boldly confront the problem. There is no more time for business as usual.
We blame this death on the Sheriffs, the city government, greedy landlords and corporations that live off our wages. We blame the media that refuses to question the nature of the crisis and continues promoting already failed solutions. We blame this death on the system that continues to produce this violence without seriously looking for a solution.
For the tenants of Los Angeles we have the following message: The right to housing is universal. Nobody should be pushed out of their home and into the street. This is not an isolated situation. Thousands of families are in danger of eviction, every day across the city. We must come together and organize as tenants in our buildings and as members of our neighborhoods. We must protect each other and organize to build the power to defend our homes together.
We Will Protect Each Other, We Will Defend Our Homes Together!!
(The LA Tenants Union is a diverse, tenant-led movement fighting for the human right to housing for all.)