California’s housing crisis is a complex one, as befits a state with a population of close to 40 million people, spread out over 163,696 square miles, and with some of the country’s largest cities and fastest growing population hubs, as well as some of its most rugged rural areas.
Los Angeles’ Skid Row sprawls just a few blocks from the skyscrapers of downtown and showcases one of the developed world’s largest concentrations of long-term homeless people. They live in tents and jerry-rigged shanties along the sidewalks and in vacant lots, surround social service agency buildings and provide a vista of misery stunning in its intensity. Only a few miles away, middle- and working-class tenants are being driven from their rent-controlled homes into the exurbs or onto friends’ and relatives’ couches. The causes of this diaspora are developers seeking to capitalize on Hollywood’s soaring real estate values and the city’s “densification” development strategy that prioritizes large-scale,
“No Direction Home” reaches many troubling conclusions about California’s housing market
It’s hard to imagine now, but there was a time when San Francisco was considered a working-class town. It had always been home to a generous share of bohemians, dilettantes and tycoons, of course – but it had also been the city of unchallenged union power, the general strike and rough-hewn but familial neighborhoods spilling from the Fillmore District to Potrero Hill. It’s where even Jack Kerouac worked as a brakeman for Southern Pacific.
“Anyone who disappears,” says a character in The Picture of Dorian Gray, “is said to be seen at San Francisco. It must be a delightful city and possess all the attractions of the next world.” Generations of Americans in search of reinventing themselves have agreed – along with those simply searching to invent. This latter group of “tech bros, hipsters and yoga yuppies” is the focus of Alexandra Pelosi’s 40-minute documentary, currently viewable on HBO TV and its streaming platforms.
History may record the August 2014 sale of the Villa Carlotta in Hollywood’s Franklin Village neighborhood as the moment in time when the legendary ‘Grande Dame’ became a statistic.
The 1926 apartment building was famously a stop along the path through Hollywood for numerous actors, musicians and other artists, but it has also been a home to those like eighty-three year old Sam Fuller, who lived there for 40 years. He and many other long-term residents who had hoped to live at the Carlotta for the rest of their lives received eviction notices just before Christmas last year.
“We were [being evicted and then] atomic-bombed—Ellis-Acted,” said Sylvie Shain, one of the few remaining residents, referring to a 1985 state law that allows landlords to evict tenants from their rent-controlled units if they are changed to non-rental use.
The Villa’s new owners, CGI Strategies, are attempting to use the Ellis Act to convert the 50-unit rent-controlled complex into a luxury hotel for extended stay tenants.
“The Lord has always taken care of me,” says Catherine Green, as she emerges from a moment of reflection and peers intently around her living room. On a plaque by the kitchen are words from Isaiah: “No weapon formed against me shall prosper.” She says the quote has always given her strength in difficult times.
By the end of May, the 90-year-old Green will have tendered a reluctant, pain-filled goodbye to the Golden State and the familiar comforts of the Los Angeles apartment she has made into a home over the last 30 years. She is one of dozens of Boulevard Villa residents—many of whom are elderly, disabled or on Section 8 housing vouchers— who are being unceremoniously evicted from their 43-unit Mid-City apartment complex by its new owners, Lafayette Square Apt. LLC. The eviction of every resident of 1625 Crenshaw Boulevard,