To Protect and Serve the Rich Mark Vallen Silkscreen, 1987 Los Angeles, CA. 3330
40 million people in America face eviction in the upcoming months. As eviction moratoriums across the U.S. end, people are not only at risk for homelessness but also criminalization. In Los Angeles specifically, it is legal to cite and arrest people for sleeping, camping, or lodging in their vehicles; for panhandling; or for any behavior that can be considered to “disturb the public peace or decorum, scandalize the community, or shock the public sense of morality.” Efforts to “clean up the city” (as part of the ongoing process of gentrification in Los Angeles, and more recently, in preparation for the 2028 Olympics), have resulted in the further dispossession of the few belongings unhoused people hold.
Despite California Governor Gavin Newsom’s issuance of an eviction moratorium, more than 400 evictions have taken place since March 13th. In Los Angeles alone, evictions have already resumed, even while Los Angeles County voted to extend the eviction moratorium until September 30th. In effect, this eviction moratorium offers little protection to tenants, as many tenants never make it to court and are not provided with legal counseling to win cases against their landlords (who are almost always represented by legal counsel). Even during a heatwave that has set historic highs in certain parts of the country, Los Angeles has continued to evict people from their homes and enforce Special Enforcement and Cleanup Zone (SECZ) sweeps. Black people, disabled people, mothers, and children are often left with little to nothing after police officers come with no warning to sweep away homeless encampments.
The pandemic has not only exacerbated the housing crisis in Los Angeles and other cities across the country but laid bare the deep socio-economic inequities that undergird our everyday lives. Moreover, the fact that voting for the presidential elections this year is contingent upon the ability to send a mail-in ballot, which requires a permanent address, is just another tactic in the decades-long war on poverty and homelessness. Unemployment, medical care, housing—these are all issues that have been aggravated by COVID-19, not caused by it. As such, we cannot simply tell others to get to the voting booths to solve these problems. These problems are interwoven into the very social fabric of this country, a country built by stolen lives, labor, and resources. In the face of a government that works to disenfranchise marginalized people, especially Black people, through racist and classist tactics, it is clear that the government does not take care of us. We take care of us. This week's newsletter was written by Getty Marrow Undergraduate Intern Rebecca Liu. They graduated from Pitzer College with a B.A. in Media Studies & Asian American Studies. Sources: California’s New Vagrancy Laws: The Growing Enactment and Enforcement of Anti-Homeless Laws in the Golden State Eviction ‘moratoriums’ can only go so far for renters amid pandemic Services Not Sweeps