For many students attending USC, the South Los Angeles community can feel like a transient setting. It is a home away from home, a temporary residency as we pursue higher education, shielded by the privilege we hold as students at an elite institution. Housing is a subject that affects us all; and in South L.A., communities of color are especially vulnerable to gentrification at the hands of landowners and developers, seeking to expand near USC’s neighborhood.
For that reason, USC students are not exempt from this conversation. As residents of the community, we rent, inhabit and share the spaces of our neighbors, and our presence has impacted their lives — for better or for worse.
We were inspired to create “A Home Away From Home,” a special issue that we hope will encourage the USC community to think critically about the issue of housing — a privilege many students take for granted. Yet, in reporting these stories, we found housing is something students still struggle with. From navigating tricky leases to seeking affordable housing, students described their frustrations with off-campus leasing companies and even the USC housing system.
In “No Longer Welcome,” we explore the lives of the Exposition Boulevard tenants, who have been fighting eviction from their homes since October against property owners seeking to convert the property into student housing. USC Village was proposed as a solution to the ever-increasing demand for student housing, but in “A Ticket Home,” students describe how an unexpected influx of 2018-19 USC Housing Lottery participants left them scrambling to make last-minute, off-campus arrangements.
This issue also looks beyond traditional student housing experiences, as we spoke with commuter, transfer and low-income students about the housing opportunities available to them. We also highlighted the need to create housing spaces where students can comfortably express their identities in “Special interest spaces foster community.”
Our hope with this project is to shift the conversation about student housing to explore the USC community’s incredibly diverse housing needs and options, as well as the unexpected difficulties they face.
There are measures the University can take to better serve students and the surrounding community, but it’s also our responsibility as students to become aware of how USC’s presence affects the lives of those who reside around our campus.
Since October 2017, the tenants have worked with the Los Angeles Tenants Union to extend their stay or receive compensation for their relocation.
The Gakusei Kai House is an affordable living destination for a small group of low-income students at USC
USC Housing currently offers five cultural floors and two gender-inclusive floors. It plans to create a gender-neutral floor in the USC Village by Fall 2019.
The 2018-19 USC Housing Lottery filled up earlier than many students expected, leaving them frustrated and scrambling to find off-campus accommodations