LA County leads the nation in overcrowded homes
Iin Pico-Union, 40% of houses have more than one occupant per room
By Dana Bartholomew
Los Angeles County, a pioneer of single-family housing sprawl, has more overpacked homes than anywhere in the U.S.
For three decades, the county has led the nation in overcrowding, with 11 percent of homes now having more than one occupant per room, the Los Angeles Times reported in an expose.
More than 370,000 families in L.A. County live in overcrowded conditions, which show no signs of abating.
In Pico-Union, just west of Downtown, 40 percent of homes are overcrowded. Some 40,000 people live within 1.33 square miles, a population density greater than New York City, but without its skyscrapers.
Because of crowded conditions, when an infectious disease like COVID-19 takes root, the contagion spreads and kills more residents than just about anywhere in the county.
More than 15,500 coronavirus cases were recorded in Pico-Union, with nearly 300 deaths. Its residents were 11 times more likely to die from COVID than those living in Manhattan Beach, where just 1 percent of homes are overcrowded, according to a Times analysis.
The newspaper blamed a century of Los Angeles leaders who favored the development of single-family neighborhoods, with lawns in front and orange trees and pools out back.
They could have addressed deplorable living conditions for the region’s poorest residents with more apartments, taller buildings and public housing. But they saw those ideas as anathema to the Southern California lifestyle they were creating, the Times said.
So in working-class neighborhoods, more and more people crammed into existing housing, with new streams of immigrants arriving from Mexico and Central America. Repeated warnings about the consequences of unprecedented crowding were ignored, according to the newspaper.
In recent decades, immigration has waned. But skyrocketing housing costs have locked generations of Latino families into cycles of overcrowding. For many, living in packed spaces is a last defense to becoming homeless.
Fixing the problem in Los Angeles, experts say, requires a reversal of the decisions that allowed the region to become so crowded.
The answer is more housing, more subsidies for poor renters and more pathways to the middle class for Latino workers and their families, who historically have been most likely to live in overcrowded homes, according to the Times.
Via The Real Deal