The Balancing Act Of Code Enforcement

In the most overcrowded city in the U.S., officials and advocates are trying to address health and safety concerns related to overcrowding, without displacing the very people they are trying to protect.
September 18, 2003, 9am PDT | Connie Chung
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Santa Ana, CA, "with the most crowded households of any large U.S. city and many of its dwellings substandard...faces an intractable dilemma: how to enforce health and safety laws without forcing thousands of residents onto the street. Santa Ana's average household size of 4.6 people is, according to the U.S. census, greater than that of any other U.S. city with a population of more than 50,000....The average household size in Los Angeles is 2.8; in New York City, it's 2.6. Exacerbating Santa Ana's housing problem is that one in every five dwellings is substandard, the city says....And so the city is caught in the middle of competing tensions. It attracts poor working families resigned to sharing houses with strangers and tolerating faulty plumbing and electricity and other deficiencies. And with diminishing resources, the city tries to enforce codes intended to protect residents yet which, if strictly enforced, may only worsen their immediate plight."

Thanks to Connie Chung

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Published on Monday, September 15, 2003 in The Chicago Tribune
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