Los Angeles: Reclaiming Our Homes

No one should be homeless when homes are sitting empty. Housing is a human right!

There are more vacant homes than people experiencing homelessness in Los Angeles. Some of these vacant properties are even owned by the state. We are taking this housing back for our community.
Impacted by the housing crisis, and feeling even more urgency in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic, we are reclaiming vacant houses owned by the state to fight for housing as a human right. We the Reclaimers are calling on the city and state to immediately use all vacant properties to house people. We need all levels of government to make a massive investment in public and social housing so that everyone has a home during this housing and public health crisis.
In California, a person needs to earn $32.68 an hour to afford an average two bedroom apartment. It’s an outrage that the state and city are leaving homes and property unused when so many people need housing. We are holding them accountable and demanding immediate action.

Reclaim Our Homes is organizing a fundraiser with this statement:

Governor Gavin Newsom,

This is to notify you that we, Reclaimers, members of Reclaiming Our Homes, less than an hour ago, have peacefully moved into a State-owned empty house in Los Angeles on the now defunct 710 corridor. We, the Reclaimers, are homeless families that include children as young as 9 months old and elders over 70 that have been living in cars and encampments. We ask that you quickly call Caltrans officials and direct them not to use violence or arrest to resolve this homeless issue.

As you should know, over the last 30 years, Caltrans has preferred to follow an unwritten policy of depopulating the corridor using various means such as; harassment, intimidation, no cause evictions, neglect and rent raises at the rate of 10% every six months to evict tenants. This State Agency, now under your authority, would rather have empty houses than tenants who have been demanding their rights. The result is that over 200 out of 500 original rentals are now empty. This particular State Agency has been part of creating the housing crisis. We instead are occupying several houses, in accordance to your spoken and written policy.

And this is not just about the Caltrans properties. Up and down the state, there is unused public land and property while tens of thousands sleep on our streets each night. We, Reclaimers, demand that all unused and empty State, County, City and School District buildings and properties be immediately used to house the thousands of homeless individuals and families.

The present coronavirus is bringing out the best and worse in us all. It is common knowledge that the public is safer if people have the ability to self-quarantine and safely self-isolate in a home. Also, the State of Michigan is correct in making sure that all families have running water and have reversed a long-time policy of turning off water for non-payment. We ask that you, as Governor, direct Caltrans to allow the new families to immediately turn on their utilities. Heat and electricity are also essential to the well being of the Reclaimers.

Lastly, it is important that you take direct authority over this matter because the Reclaimers have broad support from a community that is fed up with the housing crisis that has millions in California struggling every day just to keep a roof over their heads. In addition to demanding that all publicly-owned vacant housing and property to become homes for people who need them, NOW!, we are calling for the following:

o Housing should be homes for those who need it, not investments for Wall Street speculators.

o Housing must be recognized as a human right in our state constitution.

o We need all levels of government to make a massive investment in public and social housing so that everyone has a home.

The Reclaimers and their vast support networks are ready to help rebuild these homes and this community. However, the Reclaimers are also ready to defend what we consider ours. If the police are called by Caltrans there will potentially be hundreds of arrests, all because we are carrying out your policy in practice.

Although 1 Billion dollars is a good start that we appreciate, we all know that is not nearly sufficient. We want to thank you, in advance, for your policy on homelessness, affordable housing and for any positive intervention such as direct talks, no police violence, allowing the turning on of indispensable utilities, and immediately accepting new tenants into the Caltrans tenant rolls.


Housing is a Human Right—El Techo es Un Derecho
All Vacant Public Properties for Affordable Housing

Our Stories

Ruby Gordillo, Reclaimer: “At this new house, everything will be different. My kids will have space to play in a yard for the first time, like the one at the house I grew up in not far from here. I want to garden, and get to know my neighbors, go for walks, and be a part of this beautiful community here in El Sereno.”

Martha Escudero, Reclaimer: “I was born and raised in California mostly in the Los Angeles area and it saddens me to see the state in such a horrific housing crisis. I am a mother of two daughters and we have been in unstable housing for a year and a half. Not having a place of our own and having to move so much has affected us in a deeply emotional way.”

Benito Flores, Reclaimer: “I had to start living in a van because I couldn’t pay the rent. I think there are a lot of us in the same situation living in the streets living in their cars. And I think we should do something, we must do something. The rent is too high and salaries too low.”

Reclaiming Our Homes
reclaimingourhomes [at] gmail [dot] com
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