Last quarter, several dozen families, most of them Latino immigrants and working class individuals, were forced to move from their longtime homes in the Cedarwood Apartments in Isla Vista. Conquest Student Housing, the company responsible for serving the eviction notices, threw them out after purchasing the property and deciding to gentrify it. With the families out on the street, Conquest has begun renovating the apartments. The company plans to make beaucoup bucks off the revamped complex by leasing the units to students who can pay much more for housing in the ever-tightening Isla Vista market.
What has happened to the families? They have been thrown to the winds. Most of them have found new places to live, but many have had to relocate outside of Isla Vista, some outside of Santa Barbara entirely. A few remain homeless. The hardship of displacement is weighing heavily on them.
This isn’t the first time a landlord has evicted community members from Isla Vista solely to jack up the rents. Over the years Isla Vista prices have been going up with working families and low-income students feeling the pinch. This predatory form of real estate speculation hurts even those students who can afford to pay the most. By gouging rents and evicting families everyone suffers. It burdens the whole community.
When companies act irresponsibly and against the interest of the majority the best way for us to respond is to hit them where it hurts. Conquest has shown nothing but callousness toward working families and regular students in IV. Let’s boycott Conquest Student Housing. Let’s all avoid the new Cedarwood. Let’s vacate the Breakpointe Apartments. Let’s work toward strengthening tenants’ rights in I.V. and beyond. Let’s not let greed and cruelty conquer I.V. Happy New Year.