When Los Angeles hosts the 2028 Olympics, it’ll need to house thousands of athletes and the tens of thousands more who will come to watch them.
The city said it can do so without displacing Angelenos. Housing advocates aren't so sure.
Those who organized L.A.'s bid for the Olympics point out that the city won't have to construct an Olympic Village. Athletes and support personnel will live in student housing at University of California, Los Angeles, which was already planning to build more dorms for a growing student body. The school is expected to easily meet a target for 17,000 beds by 2028.
Meanwhile, journalists from all over the world will be placed at University of Southern California, which will have 3,200 beds.
The availability of housing was key to Los Angeles winning its Olympic bid, observers said.
"It was a major factor," said Ed Hula, editor-in-chief of the Olympics website Around the Rings. "You seldom go into the Olympic Games with housing ready to go."
L.A.'s bid team said city residents won't see the disruption and displacement that those living in other host cities such as Rio de Janeiro experienced.
"We have some temporary grandstands but we don’t have any permanent construction, whether housing, infrastructure or stadium," said Jeff Millman, spokesman for LA 2028, the committee that worked on L.A.'s bid for the Olympics.
But housing advocates are worried about indirect displacement. Cynthia Strathmann, who works on tenant rights with the nonprofit Strategic Actions for a Just Economy, said the Olympics will fuel real estate investment — and gentrification.
She also predicts the Olympics will create a mass incentive for landlords to push tenants out of units so they can be listed on Airbnb for tourists to rent.
"The whole thing sounds like a bit of a housing disaster," said Strathmann, who is part of NOlympics LA, a group that's calling on the city to take care of homelessness rather than the games.
LA 2028 points out that Airbnb will be only one of the housing options for tourists.
Los Angeles, as one of the world's most popular tourist destinations, has more than 125,000 hotel rooms within 30 miles of the games, Millman said. More rooms are in the pipeline because of 47 hotel projects in development, he added.