Overcrowded, multigenerational housing quickens COVID spread

Andrea Galdamez, 21, in front of the home she shares in South LA with three generations of her family. COVID-19 recently sickened the entire family. Photo courtesy of Andrea Galdamez.

In Los Angeles County, Latino residents face the deadliest risk from COVID-19. Black and Asian residents are also dying at higher rates than white residents. And the poorer you are, the greater your risk of dying from the virus, according to LA County public health data. Housing is one factor contributing to these deep disparities.

Across the country, Latino, Asian and Black residents are all more likely to live in multigenerational households than white people, according to a study by the Pew Research Center. And in homes with at least three generations of family members, vulnerable older residents risk exposure from younger relatives. 

Separately, Los Angeles is also one of the country’s most overcrowded housing markets. Overcrowding, which the federal government defines as having more people than rooms (minus bathrooms) sharing a home, can make COVID-19 outbreaks more difficult to contain because of the lack of space to isolate.