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‘Gimme Shelter’ podcast: How the California Constitution affects housing for poor people

Residents of Chavez Ravine, on the site of what is now Dodger Stadium, await the next move in an eviction battle in 1959.
Residents of Chavez Ravine, on the site of what is now Dodger Stadium, await the next move in an eviction battle in 1959. They had been given a deadline to move out of their homes.
(John Malmin / Los Angeles Times)

Seventy years ago, California voters passed Article 34 of the state Constitution, which has made it harder for poor people to find a place to live.

The provision requires a public vote before public housing gets built in a community, and the campaign to pass it appealed to racist fears about integrating neighborhoods. Though Article 34 has a limited effect on the construction of affordable housing in California today, it stymied such building for decades — including plans for public housing in the Chavez Ravine neighborhood on the site of what’s now Dodger Stadium.

On this episode of “Gimme Shelter: The California Housing Crisis Podcast,” we examine the legacy of Article 34, which weakened efforts to integrate suburban communities across the state and led to a landmark U.S. Supreme Court case that led to government policies nationwide that discriminate against poor people.

Our guest is Andre Perry, a fellow at the Brookings Institution and author of “Know Your Price: Valuing Black Lives and Properties in America’s Black Cities.” Perry’s research on racial bias in the housing market estimated that owner-occupied homes in Black neighborhoods are undervalued by $48,000 per home on average, amounting to $156 billion in cumulative losses.

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Gimme Shelter,”a biweekly podcast that looks at why it’s so expensive to live in California and what the state can do about it, features Liam Dillon, who covers housing affordability issues for the Los Angeles Times, and Matt Levin, data and housing reporter for CalMatters.

You can subscribe to “Gimme Shelter” on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, Soundcloud, Google Play and Overcast.


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