It’s the cruel paradox at the center of housing in Los Angeles. L.A. is known worldwide as the capital of single-family-home sprawl. Yet for three decades, it has had the most overcrowded housing among large counties in the United States. The COVID-19 pandemic exposed the fatal consequences, with death rates in L.A.’s most overcrowded neighborhoods at least twice as high as in those with ample housing.
It didn’t have to be this way.
The crowded conditions have been a century in the making, with local leaders designing Los Angeles so that these circumstances became inevitable.
My colleagues and I spent more than a year for this series delving into the history of Los Angeles to understand how the region’s repeated disregarding of poor Latino immigrant workers and their families led to widespread overcrowding.
Series landing page: https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-10-19/packed-in-overcrowded-housing-los-angeles
The main story: https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-10-19/los-angeles-history-overcrowding-united-states
One family’s desperate act to escape overcrowded housing in L.A.: https://www.latimes.com/homeless-housing/story/2022-10-19/los-angeles-overcrowding-housing-one-family
Why it’s so hard to fix housing overcrowding in Los Angeles: https://www.latimes.com/homeless-housing/story/2022-10-19/overcrowding-los-angeles-housing-fix
A century of overcrowded homes: How we reported the story: https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-10-19/overcrowded-los-angeles-homes-reporting
To fix overcrowding in L.A., build more housing, mayoral candidates say: https://www.latimes.com/homeless-housing/story/2022-11-01/overcrowding-housing-la-bass-caruso
California has a deep shortage of available housing, particularly for low-income families. One major challenge to fixing the problem is that it’s more expensive to build affordable housing than anywhere else in the country.
We found one project that cost more than $1 million per apartment to build and showed that decisions made by the state government and cities were the key drivers of why it’s more costly in California than elsewhere.
The story: https://www.latimes.com/homeless-housing/story/2020-04-09/california-low-income-housing-expensive-apartment-coronavirus
California’s laws restricting public access to police misconduct information are the nation’s strictest. This story detailed how they became that way, starting with the shocking story of the Los Angeles Police Department shredding four tons of internal records in the 1970s, and why police union power at the state Capitol ensures they persist. Weeks after the story published, state lawmakers passed legislation to begin to unwind the secrecy rules for the first time and the governor signed it into law.
The story: https://www.latimes.com/politics/la-me-california-police-discipline-secret-20180815-story.html
The follow ups: https://www.latimes.com/politics/la-pol-ca-police-transparency-bill-passes-20180831-story.html & https://www.latimes.com/politics/la-pol-ca-police-misconduct-rules-changed-20180930-story.html
California’s ambitious climate change goals often are described in terms of the need for huge numbers of electric cars and solar panels. But this story for the first time described in a comprehensive way how Californians will need to change how and where they live, packing into higher-density cities at a rate not seen since World War II to meet the environmental goals.
The story: https://www.latimes.com/politics/la-pol-ca-housing-climate-change-goals-20170306-story.html