This segment originally aired Dec. 8, 2016, on VICE News Tonight on HBO.
Earlier this month, 36 people died in the deadliest fire the United States had seen in over a decade. No building code inspector had been inside the Ghost Ship warehouse in more than 30 years when the communal living and performance space caught fire during an event.
Since then, law enforcement across the country has cracked down on similar live-work spaces. Dozens of people were evicted from the Bell Foundry arts building in Baltimore, and the same thing is happening to communal warehouses in Oakland. Residents claim that these co-op spaces offer needed housing to vulnerable communities.
“Queer people, trans people, people of color, women who might face harassment, those people are particularly vulnerable to that not being a safe space,” Oakland resident Nihar Bhatt told VICE News correspondent Dexter Thomas. “These types of spaces allow them to organize their communities differently and also to participate in a different way.”