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After Thanksgiving Removals, Activists Vow To Continue Fight To ‘Reclaim’ Vacant Homes

EL SERENO HOMELESS PROTEST
An activist stands with a CHP officer's baton pointed at his stomach as officers attempt to gain control of a protest on Sheffield Ave. on Wednesday, November 25, 2020.
(Brian Feinzimer for LAist)
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Over the past two days, dozens of activists occupied state-owned vacant houses in L.A.’s El Sereno neighborhood, saying they should be given to people without homes. CHP officers forcibly removed them, arresting more than 60 people.

The homes are among 460 the California Department of Transportation bought in decades past as part of the effort to connect the 710 freeway to the 210 in Pasadena. That plan collapsed; the state subsequently sold or leased most of the properties, but 163 remain empty.

The group Reclaim and Rebuild Our Community began occupying some of them on Wednesday.

“It's a crime to have houses sitting empty, when so many people are out on the streets,” said Iris De Anda, one of the occupiers.

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The activists want Caltrans to transfer ownership of the vacant properties to the El Sereno Land Trust, which they say will ensure they’re used for the unhoused.

Caltrans said the activists had to be removed because the homes are unsafe. It said it’s been working to lease several homes as temporary shelters, and recently signed a lease with the city of L.A. to use 22 of them as transitional housing.

The agency said it’s working to sell the remaining homes, and is committed to making sure they’re used for affordable housing.

Organizers involved with the "reclaiming" effort are calling on the authorities to drop all charges against those arrested for occupying vacant homes.

READ OUR FULL STORY ON THE OCCUPATIONS:

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