Struggling for the Basics: An Anaheim Millennial’s Housing Experience


As I drive through the City of Anaheim (Anaheim) down streets like La Palma Avenue, Lincoln Avenue, and Beach Boulevard I cannot help but notice the new developments being built. New luxury housing units and businesses to “revitalize Anaheim.” While the City moves rapidly on these revitalization efforts, young people like me are being left out of these conversations. I moved to Anaheim from the Inland Empire in 2019 to pursue a job opportunity that I could not pass up. I thought I would be able to afford my own apartment after a few months of saving up, but I quickly learned this goal was merely a delusional fantasy. Every month I find myself living paycheck to paycheck, paying credit card debt, car payments for a used car, and suffocating student debt. My entire life I was told, “get a good education, follow the rules, be responsible, and you will have no problem getting by.” By the age of thirty I learned that was a damn lie. 

I still live in the same apartment complex since I moved to Anaheim in 2019, an 800 sq. ft. 2 bed 2 bath apartment, splitting expenses with a roommate. When my parents were my age, they lived in a 4 bedroom, two story house while working blue collar jobs. Now, even with a full-time job earning more than my parents did back in the 90s, I have to split expenses with another person. My experience is not solitary. My neighbors are crowded in small apartments like mine, some filled with families of six or more. A majority of these working class, mixed status, Latinx families are forced to live under these conditions because of the lack of organic and new truly affordable housing in Anaheim. Many of my neighbors migrated to the United States under the assumption that the American Dream could one day be achieved. Unfortunately, they have been met with little opportunities and a housing crisis that has crushed that dream. 

Our elected officials at the local level have failed to enact housing policies that will protect tenants, like my neighbors and I, from unjust evictions and all time high rent increases. Instead, they have approved projects that will push working class communities out of Anaheim. Corporate special interests like Save Our Anaheim Resort (SOAR) spend hundreds of thousands of dollars every election cycle to ensure a City Council (Council) majority that will do their bidding. At the April 16 Council Meeting, the Council made the decision to greenlight the Disneyland Forward project, a development expansion project that will have undeniable negative impacts on our community. This decision is a complete disregard for the wellbeing of Anaheim residents in the surrounding area. By approving a development plan that will displace residents, the Council has yet again pledged its allegiance to corporate interests over working class communities in Anaheim. The Council’s cozy relationship with the resort industry coupled with hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions has clouded their judgment and compromised their ability to serve in the best interests of the residents of Anaheim. While we plead for more affordable housing units, they turn around and privatize our roads and displace working class families. 

Every day, families in Anaheim are being priced out of their homes because the cost of living has reached unimaginable heights. My neighbors and I deserve public servants in office who are responsive to our needs. We deserve solutions that deliver housing that is affordable and dignified. 

Rebecca Pasillas

Rebecca Pasillas

Rebecca has been an Orange County resident for the past 6 years. Her time here has lead her to 4 years of activism for social justice initiatives. She is currently working in healthcare administration.