Letters to the Editor: ‘Squatters’ in El Sereno’s abandoned homes are a community asset

A private security guard tends to one of the 170 empty homes in El Sereno that are owned by Caltrans.
(Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: What is “disgraceful” about Martha Escudero and her children claiming an abandoned house in El Sereno owned by the California Department of Transportation is the fact that she felt she had no other choice to provide housing for herself and her children.

What is “disgraceful” is agencies from Caltrans all the way up to the federal government not acting to provide a safety net for unhoused individuals and families during a pandemic.

Why is a family inhabiting a formerly boarded up house “disgraceful,” as one neighbor complains? Why isn’t it welcomed?


Abandoned and boarded-up houses should immediately be made habitable for unhoused people. Local governments can provide needed jobs to union trade workers to make repairs to the houses. Families and individuals can rent these “more than 80 now-vacant single-family homes” at reduced rates.

With so many people facing eviction, these houses sit waiting for families to occupy them and, in the process, clean up neighborhood blight.

The people living in these homes now don’t have an “I-don’t-care attitude,” as one neighbor said. These “squatters” care very much about having a roof over their heads, and inhabiting these houses can only improve quality of life in these neighborhoods.

Catherine M. Gentile, Santa Monica


To the editor: To the neighbors objecting to “squatters” in El Sereno, what is your problem? You have homes. What’s wrong with some unhoused families moving in and fixing up these places?

It will add to the safety and vibrancy of the neighborhood and, in time, tax monies for your streets. It might even be your ticket into heaven.


Let’s get busy helping these people fix up their new homes. Eventually they’ll be paying rent or buying these places.

Cheryl Younger, Los Angeles