Understanding Housing Informality in Los Angeles

by Steven Schmidt, University of California Irvine

During a warm summer evening in Los Angeles, I interviewed Mabel on the sideline of her son’s baseball practice. A single mom from Guatemala, Mabel lives with her three kids in an apartment bedroom that she rents under the table from an older woman. Mabel sees the rented room as a stepping stone to owning a home: “I want to grow, to eventually have my own house. But for now with my situation, I have to wait a little longer to be able to do it.”[i] Later that year, I met Lisa, a middle-income white woman who rents a home about five minutes away from Mabel. Although her lease does not allow sublets, Lisa usually rents out one of her three bedrooms. I asked what she looks for in a roommate: “We don’t cook animal products, we eat organic, so a health-conscious person. We didn’t want more kids, that was just too much.” Sharing a home is relatively common in Los Angeles, where an estimated 47% of families live doubled-up, or with another adult who is not a romantic partner (Bretz, 2017). While many doubled-up renters live in multigenerational homes, Mabel and Lisa live with non-family members. How do renters find opportunities to rent spaces in other households, and how do families decide who they will allow to live with them?

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A Conversation w/ new City & Community book review editors Sofya Aptekar & Ervin Kosta

Albert Fu: Sofya and Ervin, first of all, congratulations on your new role as book review editors for City & Community. Can you tell us a little bit more about the new initiative on non-English book reviews?

Sofya Aptekar: Thank you, Albert. We’re pretty excited to be part of the effort of running this journal. The idea of adding reviews of books published in languages other than English was broached to us by the new editor-in-chief Richard E. Ocejo. Both Ervin and I thought it would be great for C&C readership, and have begun the exciting work of tracking down books published across the world.

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New Books (Summer 2021)

Castañeda, Ernesto. 2021. Building Walls: Excluding Latin People in the United States. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books. https://rowman.com/ISBN/9781498585651/Building-Walls-Excluding-Latin-People-in-the-United-States

Gonzales, Teresa Irene. 2021. Building a Better Chicago: Race and Community Resistance to Urban Redevelopment. New York: New York University Press. https://nyupress.org/9781479813568/building-a-better-chicago/

Hondagneu-Sotelo, Pierrette and Manuel Pastor.  2021.  South Central Dreams: Finding Home and Building Community in South L.A. New York: New York University Press. https://nyupress.org/9781479807970/south-central-dreams/

Korver-Glenn, Elizabeth. 2021. Race Brokers: Housing Markets and Segregation in 21st Century Urban America. New York: Oxford University Press. https://global.oup.com/academic/product/race-brokers-9780190063863

Montgomery, Alesia (2020). Greening the Black Urban Regime: The Culture and Commerce of Sustainability in Detroit. Detroit, MI: Wayne State University Press. https://www.wsupress.wayne.edu/books/detail/greening-black-urban-regime

Stuber, Jenny. 2021. Aspen and the American Dream: How One Town Manages Inequality in the Era of Supergentrification. University of California Press. https://www.ucpress.edu/book/9780520306608/aspen-and-the-american-dream

Taplin-Kaguru, Nora E. 2021. Grasping for the American Dream: Racial Segregation, Social Mobility, and Homeownership. New York, NY: Routledge.https://www.routledge.com/Grasping-for-the-American-Dream-Racial-Segregation-Social-Mobility-and/Taplin-Kaguru/p/book/9780367075941

Xu, Fang. 2021. Silencing Shanghai: Language and Identity in Urban China. Lanham: Lexington Books.            https://rowman.com/ISBN/9781793635310/Silencing-Shanghai-Language-and-Identity-in-Urban-China

Call for Papers: The State and the Covid Crisis

Special Issue in the Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society
Editors: Mia Gray, Michael Kitson, Linda Lobao, and Ron Martin

This Special Issue aims to address the big debates about whether and how the pandemic has changed the role of the state at the level of localities and regions. While the state’s role in some nations has clearly shifted dramatically, these changes remain influenced by earlier actions (the reduction in public sector spending, the weakening of regulatory authority, and the overall diversion of resources to the private sector) associated with the promotion of neoliberalism and austerity. To what degree has the response to the pandemic re-shaped the structure, remit, and processes of the state? In exploring the changed role of the post-Covid state, articles might address such questions as the following:

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Interview w/ Jackelyn Hwang: 2020 Addams Award for Best Article

Jackelyn Hwang, an Assistant Professor of Sociology at Stanford University, was the winner of the 2020 Jane Addams Award for best article. Jackelyn’s innovative research agenda examines the relationship between how neighborhoods change and the persistence of neighborhood inequality by race and class in US cities. We reached out to ask her to discuss her research, and we’re including her responses below. Thanks to Jackelyn for participating in our interview series!

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2020 Park Award: Sites Unseen

The winner of the 2020 Robert E. Park Award is Sites Unseen: Uncovering Hidden Hazards in American Cities.  New York: Russell Sage Foundation by Scott Frickel  & James R. Elliott. It is part of the American Sociological Association’s Rose Series in Sociology. Below is a discussion with the winners on industrial waste and its legacy in the urban landscape.

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Interview w/ H. Jacob Carlson – 2020 Graduate Student Paper Award Winner

2021 Winter, Vol. 34, No.1 

H. Jacob Carlson, a postdoctoral scholar at the Population Studies and Training Center at Brown University, was the winner of the 2020 Graduate Student Paper Award. Jake’s innovative research agenda leverages the urban and political sociological traditions to address new questions about democracy, housing, and changing cities. We reached out to ask him to discuss his research, and we’re including his responses below. Thanks to Jake for participating in our interview series!

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Chair’s Message (Winter 2021)

Derek Hyra
American University
2021 Winter, Vol. 34, No.1 

Let me start by wishing everyone a happy, healthy, and productive New Year. 2020 was nothing short of a high speed train wreck. The pandemic and continued police brutality brought on immeasurable suffering and loss, exposing once again the dire consequences of systemic racial inequality. Communities of color have been disproportionally affected by this virus and police aggression. Now more than ever our sociologically-informed, community and urban research is greatly needed, and I implore you to position your work to help fuel social justice efforts aimed at ameliorating racial and spatial inequality.

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2020 Lynd Award: Lessons Learned: A Perspective from Golden Pond

Barrett Lee
Pennsylvania State University
2021 Winter, Vol. 34, No.1 

Being named the 2020 recipient of the Robert and Helen Lynd Award for Lifetime Achievement has been both gratifying and humbling, given the distinguished honorees who preceded me. I was taken by surprise when Kevin Gotham (the Lynd committee chair) first passed along the news last spring. That initial reaction quickly gave way to an appreciation of the award as a collective rather than solo accomplishment. From my undergraduate days to the present, I’ve had the good fortune to learn from and work with many talented and inspiring students, mentors, colleagues, and collaborators.

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What to Expect at City & Community

Richard E. Ocejo
John Jay College and the Graduate Center, CUNY
2021 Winter, Vol. 34, No.1 

It is an absolute honor to be the next Editor-in-Chief at City & Community. The journal began publication around when I started graduate school, so there hasn’t been a time when I haven’t known of its existence. Whether from reading its pages, contributing as an author, or assigning its pieces in my courses, it has played an indispensable role in my career. And now getting to run City & Community at this stage in its history, build on the efforts of so many great Editors and scholars, and take it to another level is a dream come true.

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