Extractive capitalism has been fundamental to the state’s relationship regarding land and resources, and with it brought tremendous environmental damage through the mining industry. Mining unfortunately has appeared as a best possible job option for working class rural families interconnected to Las Vegas, where, per one organizer “it’s either Wal-Mart or a mine.”
Las Vegas’ expansion into an ever-growing service and hospitality destination has not been followed with growth in housing to support those actually working to keep this paradise afloat. Part of the Las Vegas “mirage” per organizers is the increase in housing insecurity and unhoused populations. While public camping was banned, many unhoused working poor have been living in storm tunnels under the city. These are at constant risk of flooding and represent the kinds of precarious life created by a combined affordability and services crisis. Even as the numbers of unhoused people increased, in 2019 the city passed one of the most draconian criminalization bills in the US that pushes six-month jail times or $1,000 fines for unhoused people sitting, resting or “lodging” unless they move to a cruelly-named “Corridor of Hope” of services at the outskirts, among industrial plants, cemeteries and tow yards.
One of the ways that low-income renters have survived in Las Vegas (and increasingly Reno and Sparks) is “weeklies,” short-term hotel rentals, which exemplifies the dire price of increasing rents, corporate landlords who refuse low-income tenants, and lack of protections. The legal status of these hotels allows companies to often “skirt the law,” per a Las Vegas Review-Journal report, in regards to tenant protections, a situation which worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic.
To shift the unified, relentless power of corporate landlords and developers, organizations have sought to bring tenants together to stop the eviction machines and develop rent control measures.