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Boyle Heights-El Sereno Study Points to Housing Woes

October 11, 1992|MARY ANNE PEREZ | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

A study of Boyle Heights and El Sereno has found that housing is more deteriorated and crowded than it was 20 years ago, many retail businesses do not cater to the needs of the residents and that there are still advantages for new businesses in the area.

Early findings from the Eastside Neighborhoods Revitalization Study show the areas to be increasingly occupied by newly-arrived immigrants and renters who have crowded into dwellings for economic reasons, said Raul Escobedo, of Barrio Planners Inc., which is leading the $160,000 study for the Community Redevelopment Agency. The 14-month study--now half complete--encompasses a 10-square-mile area.

"One of the byproducts of this study is to use the information to sell the community," Escobedo said. "We have, for example, the industrial sectors (which) have a lot of advantages. Some people look at this as an old industrial area, but we found that the buildings tend to fall into a certain size range that make them attractive for start-up businesses."

Another goal of the study is to find ways to improve neighborhoods by figuring out what each parcel needs to meet the housing standards. Eighty percent of all residential units in Boyle Heights and 50% of those in El Sereno were found to need some kind of repair to meet the standards.

The study also found that 70% of the homes in Boyle Heights are rental property, as are 49% of those in El Sereno. These homes were more likely to need repair because they are not owner-occupied, Escobedo said.

"Surprisingly, we found there was a lot of consensus on the issues and I think it is because things have gotten so much worse in the past 10 or 15 years," he said.

The study also found that many residents--even though their average income was lower than the averages for the city and county--regularly shop elsewhere. Residents said they found better quality merchandise, lower prices and safer shopping environments in Montebello, Alhambra, South Pasadena and the Garment District, Escobedo said.

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