A century of overcrowded homes in L.A.: How we reported it

Our story of crowded homes spanned dozens of interviews and visits to crowded homes where COVID-19 was rampant. We pored over historical books, scholarly journals, oral histories, census and health records, city archives, and newspapers Excerpts.

In addition to the people struggling with overcrowding documented in history, we would like to give credit to the historians and researchers who were kind enough to lend their time and expertise.

To get an overall view of congested housing, we conducted several interviews with Dowell Myers, a professor of politics, planning, and demography at USC and one of the pre-eminent experts on the subject.

To explore the intersection of COVID-19 and overcrowding, we have, among others, Paul Ong, a professor emeritus of urban planning at UCLA; Jarvis Chen, social epidemiologist at Harvard; Steve Graves, economics professor at Cal State Northridge; and dr David Eisenman, a professor at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health. Claudia Solari, senior research associate at the Urban Institute, spoke about the non-COVID impact of overcrowding. And James Rojas, an urban planner, described the problems Latinos in particular face.

William Deverell, a historian at USC, provided insight into how Los Angeles has evolved since its frontier days. Manuel Pastor, director of the USC Equity Research Institute; Natalia Molina, a USC historian; and Fernando Guerra, director of the Thomas and Dorothy Leavey Center for the Study of Los Angeles in Loyola Marymount, discussed the history of Latinos in the region.

This story has been fleshed out with the help of dozens of books and articles, including Mark Wild’s Street Meeting, Robert M. Fogelson’s The Fragmented Metropolis, Carey McWilliams’ Southern California, and Tom Zimmerman’s Paradise Promoted.

Molina’s Fit to Be Citizens? describes the racial impact of the tuberculosis outbreaks of the 1920s, as does Emily K. Abel’s Tuberculosis & the Politics of Exclusion, Stephanie Lewthwaite’s Race, Place and Reform in Mexican Los Angeles, and Dana Cuff’s The Provisional City. We also consulted contemporary scholarly work, primarily by sociological researchers at USC.

In researching the deportation and forced emigration campaign of the 1930s, we drew on the book Decade of Betrayal by Francisco E. Balderrama and Raymond Rodríguez and conducted interviews with Balderrama. Oral history interviews conducted by Christine Valenciana, an associate professor at Cal State Fullerton, shed light on the personal stories of those deported from the United States

Don Parson’s Making a Better World and Eric Nusbaum’s Stealing Home documented the Chavez-Ravine saga. We also interviewed Priscilla Leiva, an assistant professor of Chicana/o and Latina/o studies at Loyola Marymount, who has extensively researched the history of these neighborhoods.

Greg Morrow’s The Homeowner Revolution provided a helpful insight into the slow growth movement of the 1970s.

The socioeconomic landscape of housing in LA in the late 20th century Century was explained in William Fulton’s The Reluctant Metropolis, Ivan Light’s Deflecting Immigration, Jacob Wegmann’s We Just Built It, and Mike Davis’ The LA Inferno.

While not all of the historians and researchers we interviewed made it into the report, their expertise was invaluable in better understanding the problem of overcrowding in Los Angeles.

https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-10-19/overcrowded-los-angeles-homes-reporting A century of overcrowded homes in L.A.: How we reported it

Alley Einstein

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