In LA’s affordable housing crisis, there is room for the “vanlord”

One enterprising landlord is charging people to sleep in vans amid city’s rising rent prices

(Credit: iStock)
(Credit: iStock)

The affordable housing crisis in Los Angeles may have reached a breaking point with the emergence of the “vanlord.”

People in Venice have been resorting to renting space in vans for weeks at a time at a cost of $300 a month, according to the Santa Monica Daily Press. The owner, or landlord or vanlord is Gary Gallerie, who has been renting out 14 vans — most of which don’t run, according to the report. Some have been parked in front of multimillion-dollar mansions.

In L.A. County, an estimated 30 percent of the 59,000 people living on the streets stay in vehicles, tents and makeshift shelters, according to the L.A. Homeless Services Authority.

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The region has been strapped with a crushing lack of affordable housing, with renters having to earn triple the minimum wage to afford the median monthly rent of $2,500. The county needs more than a half million more units of affordable housing to meet current demand, according to the California Housing Partnership.

Gary Painter, director of USC’s Homeless Policy Research Institute, told the Daily Press, “it’s not shocking that people are thinking about these makeshift solutions.”

L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti last year committed to building emergency shelters across the city. The program, which has a $20 million budget this year and is called “A Bridge Home,” has been met with fierce resistance from property owners, developers and residents in different neighborhoods who say the shelters will raise crime and stifle growth. Some of those areas include Koreatown — which has been experiencing a development boom — along with other places like Sherman Oaks and Venice. Painter of USC said many homeowners think if that don’t provide alternatives that are better than living on the streets, those homeless people will leave. But, he added, “we don’t have evidence that actually happens.” [SMDP]Gregory Cornfield