Major flood would hit Los Angeles Black communities disproportionately hard, study finds
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MADERA, Calif. — A new study from researchers at USC’s Luskin School of Public Affairs and UCLA’s Center for Health Journalism has found that the communities most affected by Superstorm Sandy are not wealthy white communities, but predominantly black and Latino communities.
Researchers studied data from the New York Times and census data compiled by the Los Angeles County Department of Health Services that revealed that over two hours after Sandy’s landfall, over 8.3 percent of the region’s population lived in the areas that were hardest hit by the storm.
One third of the area’s population lives along New York and New Jersey’s coastline, but the vast majority of the region’s population (62 percent) lives in Los Angeles County.
The area’s population density — which measures the amount of residents per square mile — was found to be the second highest in the nation, next to Miami-Fort Lauderdale-Pompano Beach, Fla. (71.7). The median household income is $45,450, a figure that is almost four times as great as the national median household income of $22,650 per year.
The researchers found that many of those living in the hardest hit areas are low-income individuals. Almost 30 percent (over 1.8 million people) make less than $20,000 annually.
“We need to be working to make sure that people who live on the coast, people who are poor, people who live in areas where the cost of housing is relatively high, they should be able to afford to stay,” said USC’s Professor of Public Affairs, Dr. David Lopez.
Additionally, the study found that low-income, people of color face disproportionate hardships after a major disaster. Nearly half of the people who lived in areas that were hardest hit by the storm lived in the state’s 15 most impoverished census tracts, which are defined as census tracts in which a population of fewer than 1,000 individuals lives in a housing unit with a median income of less than $19,000