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Behind The Scenes: Investigating A SoCal Rental Empire

 Illustration of Mike Nijjar
Illustration of Mike Nijjar
(Dan Carino for LAist)
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Last winter, our investigative reporter Aaron Mendelson was on a mission to report on evictions in Southern California — no easy task. He'd never heard of Mike Nijjar or PAMA Management.

At an investigative team meeting, Aaron briefed us on his progress, explaining that as he compiled his spreadsheets, he'd started to see the same plaintiff's names over and over on eviction cases. Some of those names seemed very similar.

Aaron had started to unravel the thread on a story we're publishing today. This is important work, the kind of journalism made possible by our readers' support. The story today is just the start of a yearlong effort by our newsroom to examine what life is like inside California's housing crisis.

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Again and again, low-income renters used the same word when they described their circumstances to Aaron: "Stuck."

They wouldn't live with bedbugs or roaches or rats and sewage spills if they could afford something better or had somewhere else to go. And in many respects, all but the wealthiest Southern Californians are stuck in this housing crisis -- priced out of buying or moving, or in the worst cases, having a roof to sleep under at all.

Please watch Aaron explain some of his key takeaways from this deeply reported story. I encourage you to read and share this report with your friends, family and colleagues.