Los Angeles Times

As renters struggle to pay the bills, landlords and speculators cash in

Renita Barbee has begun packing up the belongings in her rented South Los Angeles home. She was trying hard to hold her composure as she told her story the other day. But at times, her eyes filled.

"When I found this place, I fell in love," said Barbee, who moved into the three-bedroom, two-bath brown stucco home four years ago with her husband, daughter and mother.

But the latest monthly rent increase, a $200-plus jump, kicks in this December, and the Los Angeles city dispatcher said she can't handle that despite a decent annual salary of roughly $78,000.

"We just don't have the money to pay it," said

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