As Renters Struggle To Pay The Bills, Landlords And Speculators Cash In

By Steve Lopez
Los Angeles Times

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) According to columnist Steve Lopez, “Renita Barbee and her family are among the thousands of losers in California’s real estate economy, as rents rise way faster than wages, displacing low- and middle-income families and transforming neighborhoods in a way that one observer called “white flight reversal.”

Los Angeles Times

Renita Barbee has begun packing up the belongings in her rented South Los Angeles home. She was trying hard to hold her composure as she told her story the other day. But at times, her eyes filled.

“When I found this place, I fell in love,” said Barbee, who moved into the three-bedroom, two-bath brown stucco home four years ago with her husband, daughter and mother.

But the latest monthly rent increase, a $200-plus jump, kicks in this December, and the Los Angeles city dispatcher said she can’t handle that despite a decent annual salary of roughly $78,000.

“We just don’t have the money to pay it,” said Barbee, who’s not sure where the family will find something affordable. Her husband, a plumber, has had two strokes and her mother, whose Social Security check helped pay the bills, just died.

Barbee and her family are among the thousands of losers in California’s real estate economy, as rents rise way faster than wages, displacing low- and middle-income families and transforming neighborhoods in a way that one observer called “white flight reversal.”

But not everyone is losing.

When neighborhoods gentrify and rents and property values spike, landlords, developers and speculators cash in.

In City Terrace, Carolina Rodriguez has a sign in her window telling neighbors the landlord is trying to kick her family of eight out of a two-bedroom, one-bath house, with a rent increase from $1,250 a month to $2,000. She’s staying put for now, pending the outcome of a lawsuit against her landlords.

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