The bullshit antagonism between the Nexus and A.S. is taking the attention off of the real issue this feud erupted from: The Cedarwood – now Coronado – evictions and the families that have lost their homes. Too much space has been taken up in the Nexus and Independent about A.S.’s resolution to freeze the Nexus’ funds for breaching the boycott enacted against Conquest Student Housing. Hopefully now that the A.S. president has vetoed the resolution, more attention can be redirected toward the Cedarwood evictions. I was gone for the summer when I learned about the evictions but now I’m back at work at the Isla Vista Tenants’ Union and pushing for a boycott against Conquest Student Housing more than ever. Three families still remain homeless after being served eviction notices five months ago, and although others have places to stay, many are not permanent.
Working with children that were part of the evictions, I have heard their stories and trust me, it’s heart breaking. Some families have been split up between friends’ homes so that each child will have a roof over their head, while mom and dad work their asses off to save enough money for a security deposit and rent. A number have had to move from place to place as they wear out their welcome wherever they have been staying, and others have to make trips to the co-op houses on occasion because that’s where all their stuff is still stored. If you haven’t drowned all your morals in alcohol while partying on Del Playa Drive, you’ll see that this isn’t right and Conquest should not be getting away with this. Isla Vista is not just a community for students, everyone has a right to live here and Conquest is taking that right away from these families. Conquest is not just another dinky company. They own 18 buildings near USC, so they can’t bullshit the families or the IVTU and say they don’t have the means to provide them with some relocation assistance.
And for those of you who feel that this isn’t an issue to care about because you’re not a low-income Hispanic from a mainly Spanish-speaking family – you’re wrong. In 2005, Conquest provided students living in two buildings near USC $3,000 to $5,000 each as incentive to have them move out of their places so they could renovate the buildings and charge double the rent. Where would you go if you had to move out mid-year like those students? Would you find a place downtown or in Goleta? Would you be ready to find a different way of getting to campus? The evicted families have had to relocate and find ways of providing stability in their lives without the same assistance the USC students were given. Conquest is a shady company. The fact that they didn’t own up to being the one who bought the Cedarwood complex until going to court is a perfect example of this. Is it because they knew they’d get bad press for being at the root of the displacement of over 50 families? Now they’re looking to expand their empire in Isla Vista, according to their website. The students I work with at Del Playa High School have seen what their friends are going through and are afraid they’re next to be out in the streets because of this company’s conquest of I.V.
It’s time to call attention to Conquest’s irresponsible actions and hold them accountable for the unnecessary damage they have caused these families and the threat they pose to our wallets as they raise the rent for apartments that I hear aren’t even worth the extra money. Both the Nexus and A.S. need to drop their beef with each other for a minute and focus on the injustices that are going on in our community. We need to show Conquest we are not stopping our boycott until they do something right for a change and help the families. Who knows who will be out on the streets next? Let’s concentrate our negative energy toward Conquest, a company that truly deserves it.