The toll of the prolonged writers’ and actors’ strikes on industry workers’ housing situations is being brought to light, revealing a looming threat of eviction and homelessness.
In a new report from The Hollywood Reporter, the strikes, which have been ongoing for four months for writers and nearly two months for actors, have pushed many industry professionals to the brink of financial instability, raising concerns about their ability to cover rent, mortgages and maintain their homes.
A couple of months ago, Deadline published an alarming quote from an anonymous studio executive, suggesting that the strategy was to let the strikes drag on until union members were forced to risk losing their housing. Annette Bening, the Entertainment Community Fund chair, confirmed that this unsettling scenario is, indeed, becoming a reality.
One actor, David Baach, who has been a part of SAG-AFTRA since 2015 with credits on popular shows like Curb Your Enthusiasm and Silicon Valley, shared his struggle. Prior to the strike, Baach was able to comfortably cover his rent and bills with his earnings as a working actor. However, since work came to a halt, he has nearly depleted his savings and has been unable to pay rent for several months. In early August, he received an eviction notice, pushing him to seek assistance from the SAG-AFTRA Foundation’s Emergency Assistance Program to cover his rent.
Several Hollywood organizations have stepped up to provide financial support to industry workers during these challenging times, with a significant portion of these funds going toward rent and mortgage payments. However, the housing crisis runs deeper than just income loss; it is also closely tied to the ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Many individuals entered this crisis without financial reserves or were already behind on their rent, exacerbating the problem. In areas where eviction moratoriums have been lifted, people are receiving three-day eviction notices, intensifying the housing instability.
As of August 25, the Entertainment Community Fund (ECF) has disbursed over $5.4 million to more than 2,600 film and TV workers, with the majority of requests to prevent evictions. The Motion Picture & Television Fund (MPTF) has also increased its financial aid efforts, providing $1,500 grants and helping applicants create monthly budgets. However, even with these grants, the high average rent in Los Angeles, which stands at $3,000, poses a significant challenge.
The SAG-AFTRA Foundation has experienced a substantial increase in applications for assistance, with the majority of requests directly related to rent and mortgages. Some individuals have reached a point where they have fallen months behind on rent, and landlords have stopped accepting partial payments.
As the strikes continue with no end in sight, industry workers are making tough financial decisions, cutting non-essential expenses, and prioritizing essential bills such as rent. However, the situation is particularly dire for assistants and supporting staff, who were already grappling with the high cost of living in Los Angeles before the strikes.
Organizations like Pay Up Hollywood, in collaboration with ECF and Women in Film (WIF), have established the Hollywood Support Staff Relief Fund to offer financial assistance to workers, with rent being the most pressing concern. The strikes have only exacerbated the existing housing crisis in a city known for its high living costs.
For Reel 360 News’ full strike coverage click here.
In summary, the ongoing strikes in Hollywood have left countless industry workers facing housing insecurity and financial hardship. The situation remains dire, with no immediate resolution to the labor disputes in sight.