At $600 a month, these units offered a haven to California's unhoused. Now, residents are being displaced.

12 mins read

  • The building owner said he tried to help homeless people by offering low rents with no background or credit checks.
  • The city said the building, an old university dorm, was never permitted for multifamily housing.
  • The 200 or so residents have at least a couple weeks to find a new place, but options are limited.

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif. – For the last two years, a lone two-story building in the heart of downtown San Bernardino, California, offered to many what long had been out of reach – a place to call their own.

A monthly rent of $600 and no credit or background check provided a lifeline to those who had been homeless. That was the point, according to property manager Jeffrey Young. 

“The owners ask me and say ‘Hey man, what can we do,’” Young said. “I’m thinking … ‘Why don’t we open it to the public? See what we can do.’ Within two weeks it was full.” 

Hundreds of low-income tenants of an illegally converted dormitory building in San Bernardino, Calif., on October 5, 2022, need to find a new place to live.

But if 340 W. 4th Street was ever the oasis Young intended it to be – providing tenants with affordable housing in a state known for sky-high rent prices – that oasis has now dried. Its hundreds of residents, many of which are families, must leave. 

The city of San Bernardino told residents on Sept. 22 they must find somewhere else to live, sending tenants into a frenzy. And the clock is ticking – residents have until at least Oct. 28 to move out.

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