'Predatory renting' of RVs to homeless needs to stop: LA City Council member

Thursday, November 30, 2017
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A L.A. City Council member wants to end what he calls the "predatory renting" of RVs to the city's most vulnerable community - the homeless.

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- A Los Angeles City Council member is seeking to end what he calls the "predatory renting" of RVs to the city's most vulnerable community - the homeless.

A few weeks ago, L.A. resident Moe Witwit left his office building on Nordoff Street and witnessed a brawl between two men he described as homeless.

"It's kind of scary. You don't know what you're dealing with, and you know I feel bad for them, but at the same time, my security is important to me," said Witwit, who tried to break up the fight.

Witwit said the two homeless men live in an RV encampment in front of his work place. He said the new development is not so good for business.

"They've been losing some clients too because they feel like they are threatened putting their business in here," he said.

Councilman Mitch Englander, who represents District 12, says the increase of RV dwellings is due to a growing industry of renting out RVs to homeless people.

"There are a number of people that are buying these either from salvage yards or at auction for $50, $75 and renting them out as slumlords to the people that are most vulnerable in society," he said.

The councilman introduced a motion to eliminate this practice of what he calls "predatory renting."

"These are deplorable, inhumane conditions that are unsanitary and unsafe," he said.

However, advocates for the homeless say eliminating these types of RV rentals won't solve the problem of homelessness.

"We typically have waiting list of about 50 families at our shelter and those are people just waiting to get in. Single adults are hundreds and hundreds of people," said April Lindh, a homeless advocate.

Englander says there are resources available. Now, it's about getting those resources to the people who need it.

"We're going to continue to fight to make sure they get the help that they need, and we're not going to give up," Englander said.

According to the California Housing Partnership, the median price for a rental in L.A. County is nearly $2,500.

Many say renting an RV is the only viable option for them in this market.