Ellis Act Evictions Keep Rising, But Politicians Do Nothing

This week, the Coalition for Economic Survival released an eye-popping finding: since 2001, landlords and developers have filed more than 28,000 Ellis Act evictions in Los Angeles. Since L.A.’s average household size is 2.8 people, that means more than 78,000 tenants have been forced out of their homes through the Ellis Act. It’s outrageous — but politicians continue to do nothing.

California’s Ellis Act allows landlords and developers to evict tenants in rent-controlled apartments and then remove those units from the rental housing market and turn them into luxury housing, such as condos and boutique hotels. Housing justice activists have been aiming to repeal or reform the state law for decades.

But politicians haven’t budged, which isn’t a shock. State elected officials receive huge campaign contributions from the California Apartment Association, developers, and other deep-pocketed players in the real estate industry.

Most recently, the Coalition for Economic Survival co-sponsored a state bill this year to reform the Ellis Act, which many housing justice organizations, including Housing Is A Human Right, supported. But that legislation, which would have prohibited Ellis Act evictions for five years after the purchase of an apartment building, died in Sacramento.

The Coalition for Economic Survival recently sent out an email to supporters, noting that “developers and speculators continue to deplete L.A. of its affordable housing” as Ellis Act evictions “surpass (the) 28,000 mark.” The organization also reported that “in the last four years, Ellis Act evictions are, once again, on the rise.” It also found that two rent-control units are lost each day in L.A. due to the state law.

The Coalition for Economic Survival teamed up with the Anti-Eviction Mapping Project to keep a close watch on Ellis Act evictions, providing an interactive map that shows where evictions are taking place in L.A. (photo above) and the number of rent-controlled units that are taken off the rental housing market each year. The map uses data from the Los Angeles Housing Department. It’s an excellent tool for residents and activists.

To address the housing affordability and homelessness crises, Housing Is A Human Right advocates for the “3 Ps”: protect tenants through rent control and tenant protections, preserve existing affordable housing, and produce new affordable housing. It’s the only way to urgently help poor and middle- and working-class renters. Repealing or reforming the Ellis Act is key to preserving existing affordable housing for hard-working people.

Patrick Range McDonald, the author of this article, is the award-winning advocacy journalist for Housing Is A Human Right.

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Housing Is A Human Right

Housing Is A Human Right

Housing Is A Human Right is the housing advocacy division of AIDS Healthcare Foundation. We fight for what’s right.