Monday, January 27, 2014
Capitalists Are Selling Out Our Most Vulnerable
Apartment complexes are saying they are simply closing up shop because they were bought out by big hedge funds. The hedge funds then turn around and sell the apartments to developers for a profit. Then they reopen the apartments as condominiums for sale instead of apartments for rent. But the cost comes at a premium.
The average rent right now in San Francisco for a basic one-bedroom apartment is close to $3,000. This is part of an ongoing wave of gentrification that has been sweeping San Francisco for well over a decade, making San Francisco one of the least affordable places to live. In San Francisco, major tech companies, such as Twitter and Google, got huge tax breaks from the City of San Francisco for $22 million in order to get them to move their companies to the city. Not only do the companies take up building spaces, the employees move into the city and buy up people’s former residences at much higher prices.
This impacts seniors, the disabled, people of color, working-class folks, families, students and others who cannot afford the exorbitant rents. This often dislocates people, dumping them onto the streets and increasing the homeless population. Many depend on San Francisco services, work there, have family and friends there, and may have lived there all their lives and, thus, feel they cannot leave the city. People are put in this position because of greed. How do the apartment owners get away with this?
California’s Ellis Act. The Act was passed by the California state Legislature in 1985 after inflation in the 1970s. It was passed in order to stabilize the rental market by letting landlords evict tenants and sell the apartments as “tenant-in-common” units, which they then flip into condos.
There were “114 Ellis Act evictions between March 2012 and February 2011, and Ellis Act evictions and buyouts have increased three-fold since just the beginning of the year,” according to the San Francisco Examiner.
This has been spurred by the wave of tech companies and other capitalist endeavors moving into San Francisco at the expense of lower-income people. San Francisco is quickly becoming a city by, of, and for the rich.
Housing should be a right, not a privilege. People getting forced from their homes, some of whom have lived there for over 10 years or more, so that someone can make a buck is despicable. This is just one more reason why we need socialism.
Socialism prioritizes people over profit. Every person will be housed under socialism, even if they cannot afford to pay. There will no longer be commercial private property where people must compete and pay high rents or loans to afford an apartment or house.
Rent is theft because land is not something that can be owned by private hands. It’s collectively owned by all the people on earth. Thus, everyone deserves a piece of it. Shelter is a basic need, and socialists understand that.
No one should be allowed to make money off the misery of other people. Instead, we need to incentivize establishing affordable housing where people want to live. Socialism will guarantee everyone a home to call their own. Then people can stop fearing making rent month to month.
Spending more than 30 percent of what one makes on housing is considered unaffordable. Many are now paying more than half of their income on rent. According to the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University, one in two people are now cost burdened by paying rent. Half the country is in this situation and it grows by the day. When people are forced to pay so much in rent, they can’t afford other essential things like food, transportation, and medical costs.
Unemployment is rising, wages are stagnating or going down, and rents are increasing. This is a recipe for disaster. People should not have to be fearful of having a lack of essential resources or being put out on the street because their landlord is selling to the highest bidder. When we reorganize society based on human need instead of profit for the few at the top, society works for all of us.
In order to ensure affordable housing and stop this wave of evictions, we must organize. One group doing this is Eviction Free San Francisco. According to their website they “are a direct action group, whose mission is to help stop the wave of speculator evictions that have been hitting San Francisco by holding accountable, and confronting, real estate speculators that have been displacing long time San Francisco residents for profit.” Please check out Eviction Free San Francisco at http://evictionfreesf.org/.
Previously published in The Socialist online at www.thesocialist.us on December 13, 2013.