In recent years, the city of Reno, Nevada has fallen victim to the housing crisis faced by many other cities. Rent costs have increased to the point of being unattainable for much of the working class, and available homes are quickly occupied, making it extremely difficult to find housing for those who are currently on the market.
Rents have been going up rapidly in many cities. Reno ended 2017 with the fourth highest rent increase in the country. It is now common to hear instances of working class people forced out of their homes due to seemingly overnight, exponential rent increases that are impossible to adjust to, especially under short notice.
Sudden, dramatic rent increases are an act of violence against working people. Landlords benefit from forcing out low income residents, thus clearing space for more profitable, higher paying tenants.
This process is happening on steroids in downtown Reno, where many of the city’s impoverished people have taken permanent residence in motels. Jacobs Entertainment, a gaming company based in Colorado, has recently began buying property in Reno with the intent to demolish motels and replace them with more casinos and a proposed “fountain district,” turning the area into a playground for the rich. When asked by the Reno Gazette Journal about the scores of people who will be displaced by these projects, Jeff Jacobs, founder of Jacobs Entertainment, referred to the motels as “heroin hotels,” effectively criminalizing the people who rely on them for shelter.
As the last low income housing is ripped away from working people, there are two questions: How did this happen and how will it be stopped? In recent years Tesla and Amazon have increased operations in the Reno area, bringing in large numbers of highly paid workers from other states. This created an increase in demand for housing and land owners began to increase prices to maximize profits.
Because of capitalists’ insatiable greed, working class families are violently uprooted from their homes to clear space for people with thicker wallets. The blame does not fall on out-of-state workers, but on local landlords and property managers. This tragedy is a natural occurrence under the capitalist system, in which housing is a commodity instead of a human right. The only way to guarantee workers access to housing for all is to replace the oppressive, exploitative capitalist system with socialism.