Statement of Solidarity with Burlington and Exposition Tenants

DSA-LA stands in solidarity with the tenants from Burlington Ave. (Westlake) and Exposition Blvd. (South Central) resisting the mass evictions being carried out by the respective slumlords Lisa Ehrlich and Chung Suk Kim (and his daughter Gina Kim, who is representing the family in court). Hundreds of tenants across these buildings, almost all low-income and Black or Latinx, are displaying incredible courage and building off the momentous victory of the tenants and Mariachis at 1815 E 2nd St in Boyle Heights, who won the right to stay in their homes after a year-long struggle. DSA-LA will support and struggle with these tenants, through both media campaigns and direct actions.

We support the struggle of these tenants who are choosing to fight with collective rent strikes and direct action targeting the landlords. These tactics point out the basic inequity of property ownership and the commodification of housing, rather than attempting to work within or modify an inherently unjust system. Why should rich individuals be allowed to unilaterally displace entire communities just because they (or their families) had the means to purchase a plot of land years or decades ago? These rent strikes condemn the capitalist system itself, and demand a level of solidarity and interdependence that is remarkable, commendable, and in line with our vision of a socialist alternative based on collective struggle and interdependence.

Tenants from 85 units at 131, 143, and 171 South Burlington Ave. are waging the biggest rent strike in Los Angeles history after all 192 units across these three buildings saw rent increases of 25-50%. All striking tenants are now facing eviction, living with the constant stress and fear of potentially having their lives uprooted. Lisa Ehrlich serves as the attorney for 1979 Ehrlich Investment Trust, the corporate entity that legally owns the buildings, that was started by her family. She is the capitalist that we will target in this campaign.

The tenants at Exposition, near USC, are facing a situation similar to that of the Mariachis in Boyle Heights. Chung Suk Kim purchased seven buildings along Exposition Blvd. last September for $8.5 million and immediately moved to evict the 80+ people that lived there. Kim’s plan is explicit: remodel the units and rent them out to wealthier, whiter USC students. The tenants in these buildings, like those at Burlington, have had to endure slum-like conditions before being tossed out for profit. These evictions, as well as the ones for the Burlington tenants, will be working their way through courts for the next several months.

None of this would be happening with strong, universal rent control and tenant protections.

Although their actions may be legal, the greedy slumlords Lisa Ehrlich and Chung Suk and Gina Kim deserve to be named and shamed. These landlords are making an active choice to personally profit by uprooting hundreds of individuals and families from their homes.

Such inhumane actions deserve a proportional response. We will use DSA-LA’s wide social media footprint to make Lisa Ehrlich and the Kims the faces of gentrification and profit-driven displacement in Los Angeles. Their pictures will be blasted out and thousands of people will recognize them for the predatory capitalists that they are. Following the tenants’ leads, we will take the struggle to their homes and their communities and disrupt their peaceful lives. As we did with BJ Turner, we will not let this go down without a fight.

Finally, we must also name the larger systems that allow these malicious evictions to occur. This is a nation founded on settler colonialism and slavery, and white supremacy and racial capitalism continue to ruin lives as gentrification and evictions tear through low-income communities of color. Rich property-owners like Lisa Ehrlich and the Kims continue to profit from these systems — squeezing all the wealth they can from their tenants before forcibly evicting and displacing them. Our struggle is therefore not limited to just these two particularly cruel acts. We are fighting to guarantee housing as a human right and to end the capitalist system that puts profit over people.