The California housing crisis continues to get worse.
California is in the middle of a severe housing crisis. Staggering prices for rent have left many homeless, despite having jobs or going to school. Simply, there just isn’t enough affordable housing in major California cities and residents are fighting plans for development to ease this pain to keep their neighborhoods as they are. According to the Los Angeles Times, 29 percent of Californians pay more than 50 percent of their income towards rent. The national average in 25 percent.
Ismael Chamu, a student at the University of California, Berkeley, is one student feeling the crunch of the growing housing crisis. Chamu was living in a trailer in someone’s driveway with his brother and two sisters and says he was paying $650 a month. The trailer is not connected to a sewage system and it is barely big enough for one person.
The siblings live together in Hayward and Chamu makes the commute daily to Berkeley, about 40 miles round trip. Chamu is the child of Mexican immigrants who have fallen on their own hard times, according to the LA Times. The parents have moved from place to place chasing jobs and eventually ended up living out of their car. That’s why Chamu’s sisters moved into the trailer in Hayward. Eventually, the parents followed.
Now, Chamu and his siblings are homeless again after city officials sent notice that they were not allowed to live in the trailer. The landlords who evicted them claim they never paid rent and were doing a favor for a friend at church.
“I wouldn’t be living somewhere without paying rent,” Chamu told ABC 7. “That’s a little absurd.”
All of the attention to Chamu and his family’s homeless situation has led to a fundraising campaign on YouCaring that has raised more than $80,000. But it has also brought attention to a recent felony arrest and charges that Chamu denies are legitimate.
According to Berkeleyside, Chamu was one of two people arrested by Berkeley Police Department for vandalism. Police allege that Chamu participated in spray painting graffiti on cars, buildings, and fences, as well as slashing tires. The vandalism caused $400 in damage. Chamu was originally arrested, according to police, when he was allegedly seen hiding an illegal spring-loaded knife.
Chamu said, in a now-deleted Facebook post, that the arrest was racial profiling.
“I was kidnapped by armed agents. I was humiliated. I have been traumatized,” Chamu wrote, according to Berkeleyside. “The Police racially profiled me for being Mexican. For looking like a ‘Burglar’ for appearing ‘Dangerous.’ I will never forget this.”
Berkeleyside reported that Chamu was held for 39 hours and never spoke with an attorney when he requested one. He was also never charged with a crime when he was released.
According to a current Facebook post, Chamu says he and his family have found temporary housing for the next two weeks.