Research Paper: Latino Immigration

Pages: 7 (2212 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 2  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Urban Studies  ·  Buy This Paper

Housing Issues for Los Angeles Latinos

Certain housing issues abound for Latino residents in Los Angeles, due in no small part to particular longstanding political and private practices, a distinctive socio-cultural tradition of residents, and a wealth of legislation that is routinely bypassed to propagate systematic discrimination. The manifold effects of such discrimination may be evidenced in the grouping of housing for Latinos, in the typical standards of living to be found there, as well as in the educational and employment ramifications that result, whether by choice or through force, in a segregated "clustering" of neighborhoods of Latinos. The solution to these issues may be found within the heart of these neighborhoods, as many Latino seem to prefer to live among their own.

Argument

The illegality of housing discrimination was established in 1968 when the Fair Housing Act was made into a law (Despite The Promise). However, a number of deliberate maneuvers have been undertaken with alarming regularity to continue discrimination in major metropolitan areas such as Los Angeles, perhaps most frequently based upon race. The usage of steering -- defined as a practice in which real estate brokers and agents preserve and encourage patterns of racial segregation in available housing by steering numbers of racial and ethnic groups to buildings occupied primarily by members of such racial and ethnic groups and away from buildings and neighborhoods inhabited primarily by members of other races or groups -- is quite common in Los Angeles, as HUD's Housing Discrimination Study, published in 2000, indicated (Despite The Promise). The study was conducted by investigators pretending to be home buyers and renters, and found that Latinos were discriminated against. While conducting another study in Los Angeles and in Chicago, HUD determined that mainstream mortgage loan agencies repeatedly offered Latinos fewer options, less assistance, and withheld information about pricing and loan amounts (Despite The Promise).

Housing discrimination based on race may even be found on a legislative level. It is not uncommon for local governments in predominantly Caucasian neighborhoods (particularly those which enjoy a degree of affluence) to employ the state's zoning power to dictate who may live there (Despite The Promise). Such exclusive zoning and land use decisions can be utilized to prevent the construction of affordable housing in the aforementioned communities. Other zoning measures which can be used to exclude the presence of Latino residents in certain segments of Los Angeles include low-density-only zoning, which has an inherent proclivity to significantly lower the amount of rental housing available, and which frequently precludes Hispanic residents (Despite The Promise).

Another form of housing discrimination which Latinos encounter in Los Angeles is indirectly based on race, and more aligned with the presence of progeny. Practices of discriminating against tenants with children have historically existed, although their effects on Latinos can be evidenced from the following quotation. "…in urban areas families with children in the rental market tend to be minority group members, while White families with children tend to be suburban homeowners. Thus, policies against children can carry significant racial impact (Kushner, 2008)." Rental agents can exploit this impact by enforcing policies that disallow more than two persons in a bedroom, or by emphasizing a lack of play structures or a dearth of other children in the area (Despite The Promise). In these instances, minority groups with burgeoning numbers of children are directly.

Perhaps even more than the varying forms of housing discrimination based on race are issues that resolve around economic (or lack thereof) conditions. Such stark economic conditions which greatly affect Latinos in and immediately around Los Angeles may be most convincingly seen in the living conditions of farm workers and other decidedly low income professions. A survey conducted in 1999 revealed that nearly

48% of farm workers in California lived in crowded conditions, and that 11% endured residences unknown to post offices and to tax assessors, such as sheds, garages, and outdoors (Despite The Promise). In 2002, a group of low-wage Latinos took legal action in the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles with allegations of housing discrimination on the part of the nearby city of Buellton, claiming the city failed to provide affordable housing options (Low Income Latino Families). Their legal representative, Julia Morgan of California Rural Legal Assistance, underscored the larger problem for low-income Latinos in and around Los Angeles with the following quotation. "Buellton depends on low-wage Latino workers to work in their restaurants and hotels. The city has an obligation to address the great housing needs and to allow the construction of decent, affordable housing (Low Income Latino Families)." The situation in Buellton can be considered a microcosm of the situation Latinos face in regards to housing in Los Angeles.

A significant number of ramifications of the aforementioned housing issues faced by Latinos in Los Angeles arise, closely linked to economic and racial factors. A segregation (or at the very least, a separation) of the Latino community exists throughout Los Angeles, due in no small part to conditions of poverty. Neighborhoods with 30% or more residents below the poverty line are disproportionately African-American and Latino, while the higher their concentration of poverty, the more likely they are to be sequestered as a community (40 Years After). Racially isolated, impoverished neighborhoods have significantly fewer opportunities for traditional employment, more violence and crime, and higher levels of stress which leads to sundered families, child abuse and neglect (40 Years After). All of these situations are mere exacerbations of housing issues found by Latinos in most inner cities, and Los Angeles is no different.

The spatial mismatch of isolated communities such as those which exist for Hispanics in Los Angeles can be examined in the spheres of labor markets and education. In terms of employment, there is a definite lack of career and social outlets to overcome this spatial mismatch, so the poverty level often grows in such neighborhoods. Educationally, Latino students encounter more health problems, higher dropout rates, less experienced teachers, declining rates in college attendance, and fewer resources in schools in such areas (40 Years After). Research also indicates that the poverty rate of a school is a far greater determinant factor than the according rate of a person in terms of value received from an education, which explains why poor students are likely to perform better academically in schools where most residents have higher incomes (40 Years After).

The seemingly downward spiral of the issues which Latinos in Los Angeles face due to housing conditions, however, do yield some positive benefits, due in large part to an adaptable nature and indomitable will to survive. Despite the noticeable effects of spatial mismatching which includes excessive commute times, lower wages and increased rates of unemployment, there is a fair amount of evidence to support the belief that social enclaves are largely propagated by choice for Latino residents in Los Angeles, and it is these enclaves and the innovative use of their resources which enables Latino residents to survive the drawbacks of their relatively isolated existence (Liu, 2008).

The paradoxical nature of this statement can be substantiated by the so called "Ethnic Enclave" Hypothesis," which posits that social enclaves determined by ethnicity allow for alternative economic stability (Liu, 2008). The rationale that exists for this belief is that such informal economies are based on communal contacts and labor opportunities that provide their own network of jobs. Validation for this concept is provided in part by the fact that once significant amounts of socio-economic status and poverty are attained, many such minority groups continue to cluster (Liu, 2008). Such findings demonstrate that the result of immigration to and existence in the United States, particularly in Los Angeles for Latino communities, is not necessarily assimilation or integration into previously established communities (Liu, 2008).

Recommendations

In light of this fact, the Recommendations of this paper do not include any such integration or assimilation methods for Latinos in Los Angeles, but rather consist of measures to be undertaken to address specific issues which hamper such ethnic communities. One measure would be to address the educational inequities which exist in the aforementioned enclaves. A possible short-term solution would be to attempt bussing students into communities that are more affluent and where the health, resource, and general education standards are noticeably higher. Additionally, greater attempts should be made to provide funding to communal school systems to clean and provide new facilities, provide improved and experienced staff, and to offer an increased standard of resources.

While the issues of spatial mismatching seem to have some positive economic effects on the Hispanic community in Los Angeles, housing options should still exist outside of ethnic enclaves. Local and state zoning ordinances should be modified so that affordable housing can be provided in more affluent areas. Real estate agents should have restrictions with legal ramifications against their practice of steering, while subsidized housing should be provided by State mandates in areas such as Los Angeles, in which economies depend on low wage Latino workers as a service industry. In order to do… [END OF PREVIEW]

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