A one bedroom apartment in Los Angeles averages $2500, but for $580 you can get a bunk in a 5-bedroom Highland Park craftsman, with 24 roommates.
Twenty-five people live in this one-story Craftsman near the busy Figueroa corridor. The roommates share a kitchen, living room, two bathrooms, and a yard. About two-thirds of the tenants are white. Most are single, in their 20s, and aspiring to be artists while they make ends meet by waiting tables or driving for a rideshare company.
“The only thing that we all have in common is that we’re here,” roommate Helen Harlan says. “There are tenants that are here out of financial necessity, and there are tenants who have come to L.A. so they can chase their dreams… We have a tenant who came from a homeless shelter and a tenant who’s a physics intern out at JPL.”
They pay $580 per month in rent for a bunk, a wardrobe, and a kitchen cubby for dry food. Their utilities and WiFi are included, and they get maid service twice a week. But that also means the property manager is making nearly $14,000 every month from that rent.
Andres Vidaurre lived in his car before moving to the house. He said communal living isn’t a new concept. Immigrants in Los Angeles have done it for a long time.
“I know a lot of people who grew up with a family of 15 in a single room. And these things are born out of necessity, and I think what they really highlight is a larger issue in society right now, which is the housing crisis.”
Morgan says she’s been seeing more houses like this one pop up across the county. One residence she looked at in the valley charged $1000/month for a bunk bed. She worries even communal living will get too pricey for what she believes should be a stopgap solution.
“There might be a cause and effect where people see dollar signs and then they start popping up everywhere,” she says. “And people think this is the new normal. This should be kind of temporary.”