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The Unaffordability of Some Low-Cost Housing

A photo taken from across the street of a four story apartment complex with a color scheme of beige, and pale salmon pink. It is enclosed by a black metal fence. The sidewalk is lined with trees. There's a sign at the base of the building that reads "5506 Richard N. Hogan Manor." You can see the street sign name at the street corner that reads "Figueroa St."
More than 40 million households in the U.S. have incomes low enough to qualify them for tax-credit-financed apartments, but there aren't enough to go around.
(Samanta Helou Hernandez
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There are few greater pains than checking out Zillow and every other rental app to search for an affordable place to live in Los Angeles. If you do your research on how much you should spend on housing, most sources agree it should be no more than 30% of your gross monthly income.

Inside the federal government's Low-Income Housing Tax Credit program

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Trying to find housing that fits that threshold has become harder and harder to do in many cities across the nation — Los Angeles being one of the more difficult spots, even for middle-class individuals.

Even apartments built using federal government funds to serve low-income people are not affordable. LAist requested a special analysis of local housing data from the Department of Housing and Urban Development and it shows that some people granted affordable housing weren’t actually given housing that fits into that 30% affordability standard.

Simply put, the people with the most financial needs can’t afford their rent in some cases.

For months, reporter Ted Rohrlich investigated the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit program. In the first article of his four-part series, Ted wrote about how the tax credit program was supposed to be the federal government’s largest attempt to create housing for low-income households … and that it did. It created or rehabilitated more than 3 million apartments nationwide — 50,000 of them in the city of L.A. But still, some are simply not affordable.

Read Ted’s deep dive into this affordable housing crisis here.

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Wait... one more thing

Sure, you know about Dodger Stadium. But what do you know about Chavez Ravine?

A black and white photo in which police surround a Latina woman and pull her arm while she seems to be resisting
May 8, 1959: "Several Chavez Ravine residents fought eviction, including Aurora Vargas, who vowed that, 'they'll have to carry me [out].' L.A. County Sheriffs forcibly remove Vargas from her home. Bulldozers then knocked over the few remaining dwellings. Four months later, ground-breaking for Dodger Stadium began." (Courtesy of the Los Angeles Public Library HERALD-EXAMINER COLLECTION)

This L.A. history story was a shock to my system. I have to admit that I didn’t know much about the history of Chavez Ravine before reading Elina Shatkin’s story about this community.

Let’s hop in the history car to where the Dodger Stadium now sits. We’re going back to a time between the 1900s and the 1940s to visit the Mexican American families that lived in these hills. We’ll see children playing, a wedding and people just living their lives.

These families, segregated to certain areas of Los Angeles because of their Mexican heritage, found community here.

That is, until the Los Angeles city officials saw it as prime real-estate and a place that needed to be rebuilt as public housing. So what did they do?

They pressured families to sell their homes. When people refused, they were forced out — in some cases violently.

Also, that promised housing project never happened. Construction for Dodger Stadium started where those families lived on September 17, 1959.

Read more about Chavez Ravine here.

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