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Indybay Feature
Tue Mar 24 2020
Homeless Families Take Action in Time of Housing and Health Crisis
Los Angeles Families Reclaim Empty Houses Owned by CalTrans During Pandemic
Demanding action for homeless families at higher risk from coronavirus, homeless and housing insecure families successfully moved into six vacant, state-owned properties in the El Sereno neighborhood of Los Angeles on March 14, with scores of community supporters coming out in support. In the next few days, similar families reclaimed more houses, with thirteen providing shelter now. CalTrans purchased the houses over several decades as part of a planned freeway expansion that it cancelled in 2018. Activists estimate that nearly 200 of these homes sit vacant.

The Reclaimers include mothers Martha Escudero and Ruby Gordillo and senior Benito Flores. Impacted by the housing crisis and feeling even more urgency in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, they were inspired by Moms 4 Housing — a group of homeless and housing insecure mothers from Oakland who occupied a vacant, investor-owned property to demand their right to housing. The families, like the Moms, are members of the Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment.

“I don’t feel safe being homeless during this health crisis, and I need a place of my own to protect my children from the virus,” said Reclaimer Martha Escudero. “I’m scared for everyone who is one paycheck away from my situation, who may lose their jobs and then their housing because of the virus. If the state elected officials are serious about protecting the health and welfare of Californians, it should make these vacant homes available for people who need housing now.”

Read More: article Homeless and Housing Insecure Families Spend First Night In State-Owned Home | video photo We Stand with LA Families Occupying Vacant Homes to Self-Quarantine During COVID-19 Pandemic | Reclaiming Our Homes | Moms 4 Housing | Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment

Related Features: Mutual Aid Efforts Increase to Assist Those Most at Risk as COVID-19 Spreads | COVID-19 Pandemic Threatens Most Vulnerable Populations | East Bay Housing Justice Week of Action Begins with Reclamation of Oakland House
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