New city report details history of housing discrimination in Long Beach • Long Beach Post News
First conceived in 2015 as an update to previous historic statements produced by the city, the report will help the Cultural Heritage Commission assess potential historic properties to be preserved, according to Development Services spokesman Richard de the Tower.
The 182-page report, titled “Historic Context Statement: Suburbanization & Race,” focuses on housing policies, and attempts to reform those policies, between the years 1945 and 1979. It includes a list of 85 properties deemed historically significant in the city development.
The report paints a complex picture of Long Beach, noting that while housing discrimination “was a reality for all people of color,” it also details how the city was a central player in subsequent efforts to create housing. fair in Southern California.
The report was produced by the Pasadena Historic Resources Group for the city’s Department of Developmental Services. It was funded by a $40,000 grant from the State Office of Historic Preservation that was matched by the city, according to de la Torre.
Sharon Diggs-Jackson, who was a member of the city’s 2020 redistricting commission and was one of the first black students to attend Wilson High, was interviewed by the report’s authors about her experiences growing up. She said she found the completed report “fascinating,” even though she experienced much of what it discusses.
“Setting it up was a huge task,” she said. “This is welcome information and I’m so glad it’s documented.”
The city’s Cultural Heritage Commission briefly discussed a draft of the report at its July 26 meeting.
For Commissioner Tasha Hunter, the report was “very important” because it explained the policies and practices that led to different ethnic groups living in different parts of the city, resulting in de facto segregation.
“Eastside for blacks meant Cherry because they weren’t allowed to pass Cherry at night,” she said.
Commissioner Mary Hinds also said the report was very important, but added that some of the information it contained about Poly High, which the report described as a “microcosm of the history of diversity in the city”, did not were not consistent with his experiences. there as a student in the early 1960s. Hinds said she would follow up with the staff but did not specify what was bothering her.
Although considered very progressive today, Long Beach was anything but a century ago. In 1926, 30,000 Ku Klux Klan members marched down Ocean Boulevard as planes with illuminated KKK badges flew overhead. An estimated 5,000 of the marchers were Long Beach residents, according to contemporary reporting from the parade.
World War II brought many black people to Long Beach to work in defense factories, but the racist restrictions enshrined in the deeds and the practice of redlining — where banks considered neighborhoods with non-white residents to “deteriorate — have bought homes in predominantly white neighborhoods. almost impossible, according to the report.
“Virtually all new developments were covenanted and prohibited for people of color,” the report said. “Before the 1960s, landlords and sellers in Long Beach could legally refuse to sell or rent to these populations.”
According to the report.
They also had to contend with the practice of “blockbusting”, in which white residents sold their homes out of panic that an integrated neighborhood had lower property values. Estate agents then resold the homes to minority residents at inflated prices, according to the report.
Blockbusting dramatically changed West Long Beach, with white residents dropping from around 82% of the neighborhood in 1960 to around 55% eight years later, according to the report.
Additionally, black residents who managed to purchase homes could not obtain insurance from the Federal Housing Administration, according to the report. As a result, black buyers had to purchase homes under “installment plans” in which they accrued none of the equity afforded to white homeowners, the report said.
In these sales, missing a single monthly payment could result in eviction of the black owner. As a result, these sales “often resulted in couples working double shifts to make payments and defer maintenance,” according to the report.
Even black professors hired to work at Long Beach State College (later called Cal State Long Beach) had to find housing miles from the school because deed restrictions prevented them from buying homes in the new East Long Beach neighborhoods near the school, the report states.
In an attempt to end these practices, local lawyers and clergy dedicated to civil rights formed the Long Beach Fair Housing Foundation in the early 1960s.
In 1964, the foundation helped place seven black families into permanent homes. Within a decade, that number grew to 1,500, making the organization a “model for other fair-housing organizations across California and the country,” according to a city presentation on the report.
The city is seeking public comments on the report, which can be emailed to [email protected]. The deadline for commenting is 5 p.m. on Friday, August 5.
The committee is due to discuss the report again at its August 30 meeting.