Many dark figures wade in the moonlit water in a black-and-white photo.

Vestal on History of L.A.’s Black Homelessness Crisis

Assistant Professor of Urban Planning Mark Vestal spoke to LAist about the role of racial inequity in the homelessness crisis in Los Angeles. Vestal co-authored the UCLA Luskin Center for History and Policy report “Making of a Crisis: The History of Homelessness in L.A.,” which explored the history of the homelessness crisis in Los Angeles, starting with the Great Depression and leading up to the COVID-19 pandemic. Black unhoused people are one of the largest groups facing homelessness in Los Angeles, and Vestal pointed out that the long history of racist housing policies has led to a discrepancy in homeownership among Black residents. “Black folks were segregated in inner cities and subject to predatory mortgage markets and home-buying schemes that continued to suck Black dollars and wealth from bank accounts for decades,” Vestal explained. Lack of federal support and mental health crises have exacerbated the issue of homelessness, he said.


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