How can poor Los Angeles blacks live in houses?

Perhaps it’s a false impression I’ve gotten, but in every news reports, picture, movie, video or game depiction of poor black Los Angeles neighbourhoods that I’ve seen, most people were living in single family houses. In pretty much every other place that I know, lower class people (myself included) live in flats.

It’s usually much cheaper to live in a flat than a house. It requires less land. How can LA black afford it, even if they’re shitty houses?

Before you jump on me and say I’m blaming LA blacks for being poor, that’s not what I mean. It’s not about blame, I’m wondering what happened that made LA (as far as I know) different from every other place I know where poor people live in apartments, not houses with a yard.

Lastly, if you’re a poster with an axe to grind against blacks, it would be much better if you started another thread where you could go into as much detail as you want.

There are a lot more single-family houses than apartment buildings, out here. And there are usually several adults adding to the income, whether that be via jobs, welfare payments, or whathaveyou. Extended families, mostly - cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents, etc all chipping in a little, with those unable to work contributing via childcare or house-tending.

Also, it’s not just African-Americans. Mexicans, Vietnamese, Filipinos, and most other ethnic/immigrant families will often share housing at a much higher density (of people per house) than white folks. If you’re already doing that, why not just add a couple more people and give your kids the advantage of living in a SFR instead of an apartment?

But really, it all comes down to the fact that, compared to the rest of the country, L.A. has a higher percentage of SFR’s than multistory apartment buildings. Because of the earthquakes, we tend not to trust anything over two stories high. I grew up really poor, but I’ve never lived in an apartment building with more than two stories.

Okay, enough posts!

And those folks are not nearly as destitute as you may think. Middle lower class, struggling but not necessarily poor.

The answer I’ve come up with is that they inherited the house from previous owners.

Los Angeles is a city which has sprawled over a very large area - the value of the land under an old house in a poor, older neighborhood in LA will be much less than in would be in a denser city.

It’s probably a pretty complex issue, but before these neighborhoods became violent, poverty & drug ridden shit holes, they were owned by whites, who later left (white flight), and blacks who enjoyed much better employment than they do now.

I assume you’re talking about South Central LA, now called South LA. Basically, a shitty, poor, violent neighborhood isn’t going to command very high rents until some form of gentrification kicks in.

Anyway, the homes were already there. There are also a lot of apartments. Maybe you just don’t notice them as much, but there are tons, I’m sure.

Some gentrification is already going on with whites and more affluent mixes moving in and driving up prices. LA, and California in general is seeing a black flight, with many blacks moving to the southern US.

Many neighborhoods in Los Angeles don’t have a lot of apartment buildings in them. Single family houses are the rule. That is especially true in poor neighborhoods. That’s one way that L.A. is different from most cities. The reasons have to do with the way L.A. developed.

Well, the truly poor black Americans in LA tend to live in apartment complexes commonly known as “the projects” (from the term public housing project). Nickerson Gardens is one example:

This is changing, though. The great majority of public housing in LA and So Cal is occupied by poor Latinos. Latino gang members tend to drive out the black residents of these housing projects, so public housing is becoming less and less of an option for poor black folks here.

In fact, truly black neighborhoods are becoming scarce in LA. The places you see depicted in movies and TV are mostly or entirely Latino these days.

The neighborhoods you see depicted in movies like Boyz in the Hood are lower working class rather than truly destitute, and their establishment is a function of the way Los Angeles developed, built around roads and automobiles unlike East Coast cities, together with a high level of material prosperity, including car ownership, for the black working class of the post WWII era due to factory jobs in defense and manufacturing.

What set the historically black communities in LA apart wasn’t really income, it was discrimination. Until the late 60’s, it didn’t matter how much money a black person had, they were banned from living anywhere but prescribed areas.

One of my Dad’s oldest Army buddies started his military career as a Lieutenant guarding the Nike missile installation in the hills above Chatsworth. Only the white officers could actually live in Chatsworth. The black officers had to live several miles away in Pacoima.

LA is huge and sprawling, meaning that property has historically been relatively cheap. Previously there was a relatively thriving black working and middle class, and these were reasonable neighborhoods. I imagine a lot of people are living in houses that Grandpa bought when he worked at the factory.

Both of my parents are from LA, and while I’ve never lived there, I’ve visited many, many times, and heard innumerable anecdotes about growing up there. According to my parents, when they were growing up it was illegal to build structures higher than city hall, which isn’t a particularly tall building. This sort of zoning law, combined with the sprawling nature of the city, has resulted in a city made up almost entirely of SFRs. It’s simply the norm. My dad grew up in a lower-middle-class/poor neighborhood in East LA (El Sereno and City Terrace, if you know the area) and it’s all SFRs.

I don’t know that LA is totally unique in this respect. I feel like Phoenix (which I’ve visited briefly) and Houston (where I’ve never been) are also sprawling cities with mostly houses and fewer apartment buildings.

This is true in a lot of places. In Chicago, it has resulted in amazing segregation that is still extremely visible today. BTW, some of the working class neighborhoods on the South Side that are still almost totally African American are very pleasant neighborhoods with rows of tidy single family houses with hardly an apartment building in sight.

Doesn’t Dave Chappelle have a bit where he shares how funny and strange it was when he was driving through LA to see gangsters try to act tough as they pushed lawnmowers in front of their houses with yards?

You can always find cheap houses. They aren’t very nice but they’re out there.

A lot of houses are rented, to. Just 'cause someone’s living in it doesn’t mean they own it.

LA and surrounding area has LOTS of land to spread out. Also see Houston, TX and Phoenix, AZ. Lots of single family homes built generations ago that decline in realtive value as land is relatively cheap, as the city just spreads out more.

It’s also why almost everyone in LA, Houston or Phoenix has a car, and public transportation is not as effective because the land area of the cities is very spread out.

Section 8 is the main government rental assistance program in the US for low income families. The program will provide a voucher to individuals who meet an income and asset test, and they can then take that voucher to subsidize their rent on a house or apartment.

I have a friend who’s part of a large, poor Hispanic family and they do just that: The entire clan lives in one house. So you’ve got my friend, his two brothers, his brother’s wife, his sister and her husband and his parents all living in a two bedroom house (though the house has a large living room that they’ve bisected with an entertainment center to sort of create a third bedroom), all working and pitching in. The house is rented.

Section 8 is not the reason that poor people in LA live in houses vs. apartments. If that were the case, poor people all along the east coast would also live more predominately in houses.

The reason is that there are many more houses in LA than apartments that are available to low income renters because of the geography and the history of urban sprawl vs. land locked cities on the East coast.

All that being said, home values in bad parts of Los Angeles still far outstretch home values in a place like Detroit, where homes are basically worthless in many neighborhoods. Poor folks aren’t buying many homes in LA ( says a modest home in Compton will cost you $200K), but they may be living, and own outright, the one that grandpa bought in the 1950s or 1960s.