Stacy's Story

Brett's Story

Cozette's Story

We're Not Surfing

We're Not Camping


Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, more than 500,000 of our neighbors across the country lived without a safe home. The pandemic laid bare the health and economic disparities of people experiencing homelessness and those teetering on the edge. Using the power of storytelling, Community Coalition seeks to inform, educate and broaden residents’ and Los Angeles policymakers’ perspectives about the far-reaching impact of COVID on housing and its exacerbation of the homelessness crisis in South Los Angeles.
Working with the Housing Narrative Lab via a fellowship grant, Community Coalition has produced videos that challenge the current narrative around “camping” and “surfing” regarding homelessness. In “We’re Not Surfing,” Lillian Washington (who is housing insecure) talks about the difficulties of what some have termed “couch surfing,” and in “We’re Not Camping,” Vernell Brown, a community interventionist, refutes the term “camping” that is used for those who are living in R.V.s. Instead, he defines the living experience as a “survival tactic.”

Lily's Story

"When you see people on these streets you never know what they went through to get there. Not everyone is on drugs … everyone is not lazy. A lot of us are pounding the pavement, day and night trying to get a place to stay. I was picked in the housing lottery and I haven’t heard a thing about it. It’s difficult. It’s cold. It’s rainy. You are begging, and your self-esteem sinks.” -- Deborah Purnell, CoCo Member


“At this present moment, I have been homeless since December of last year. Before that, for two years, I was on the streets. I am living in my daughter's friend's room, and they now want us to move out. I don’t want to end up on the streets again. I need help. It’s important that we focus on helping those on the streets. People don’t deserve to be on the streets, it is not just.” -- Elisa Gamez, CoCo Member


COVID-19 brought America face-to-face with its pervasive inequities. In Los Angeles, the already dire housing crisis was severely worsened. As Los Angeles addresses the housing crisis, it is critical to acknowledge how housing issues and homelessness have disproportionately impacted low-income communities of color. Such disparities demanded that we respond with solutions centered on equity and responsiveness to real community needs.


On Friday, January 20, our members showed up at City Hall, in alliance with the Keep LA Housed Coalition and other organizations, to demand that the rent moratorium be extended and to push for more renter protections.


This vote was crucial because COVID-19 eviction protections are set to expire on January 31. As a result, CoCo members made their voices heard by calling into the LA City Housing Committee meeting held on Wednesday, January 18, urging the committee to vote affirmatively on the slate of permanent tenant protections that came before the Los Angeles City Council on that Friday.


The city council voted to move forward with the LA City Housing Committee recommendations. These are three protections that were won:


    • Universal Just Cause – No one should be evicted without reason. Landlords must state a justified reason for eviction to remove tenants. Some of the approved reasons landlords could cite to evict a tenant include the following:
      • Failure to pay rent
      • Lease violations
      • Creating a nuisance
      • The landlord wants to occupy the rental unit or move in a family member
      • The landlord wants to demolish or remove the unit from the rental housing market.


The expansion of Just Cause applies to nearly 400,000 households that currently lack local cause protections. About 650,000 households already have just cause protections because they live in buildings constructed before 1978 and therefore fall under the city’s rent control system, which has long provided these rights.


    • Relocation Assistance – For tenants who receive a significant rent increase and are forced to move, they should at least receive financial assistance to do so.


    • A Limit on Evictions for Failure to Pay Rent – No one deserves to lose their home for falling behind on rent during an emergency. Low-income workers of color are most vulnerable to being one paycheck or emergency away from homelessness.