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Waters Slams California DOT for Evicting People from Vacant Homes, Demands State Legislators Act

December 2, 2020
Press Release

Waters Slams California DOT for Evicting People from Vacant Homes, Demands State Legislators Act

Washington, D.C. – Today, Congresswoman Maxine Waters (CA-43), Chairwoman of the House Committee on Financial Services, issued the following statement regarding recent reports that the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) evicted people from vacant homes it bought as part of a failed plan to expand the 710 Freeway.

“The COVID-19 pandemic crisis has posed a severe threat to our communities for nearly a year now, but the pandemic is unrelenting and continues to surge across much of the country. Cases are rising, the death toll is mounting, and the United States is now experiencing record levels of hospitalizations related to COVID-19. As winter approaches and temperatures drop, hundreds of thousands of people are living on the streets with no place to go, no option to self-quarantine, and little resources to protect themselves from this deadly virus.

“The night before Thanksgiving, the California Highway Patrol forcibly removed people who moved into vacant homes that Caltrans bought years prior in a failed attempt to expand the 710 Freeway.

“First and foremost, it is outrageous that Caltrans has vacant homes under any conditions or for any reason, but at a time when homelessness in LA County has reached crisis levels and people are in need of shelter to protect themselves against this pandemic, these homes should never have been sitting idly boarded up in the first place.

“With more than 151,000 people experiencing homelessness in California before the pandemic even began, and our state struggling to address both the homelessness and affordable housing crisis, the California state legislature must demand that these homes be rehabilitated and made available for struggling families. It is vital that state legislators act quickly and see to it that no home sits empty while people are living and sleeping on the street.

“As public health and the economic conditions of households continue to deteriorate, and with federal and state eviction and foreclosure moratoria expiring at the end of this month, I am determined to pass a COVID-19 relief bill that provides extended and expanded eviction and foreclosure moratoria, emergency rental and homeowners assistance, funding for homeless services, and financial aid to support our states and cities in this fight against the pandemic crisis. I will not stop fighting until this long overdue relief reaches those in need.”