The Watts riot of 1965 marked a turning point in South Los Angeles. Things went from bad to worse as the next two decades saw the area’s manufacturing base with its higher paying unionized jobs, local merchants, and many black middle-class residents leave.
Widespread unemployment and more poverty took their place. What had once been an area celebrated as a mecca for jazz, artists, writers, and African American culture and business successes in the West was fading into history.1
Today, South Los Angeles is an area that spreads over 50 square miles, south of downtown, and it is home to nearly three-quarters of a million people. Bounded loosely on the north by the Santa Monica Freeway, the south by the Century Freeway, the west by La Brea Avenue, and Alameda Street on the east, it continues to be home to a blend of neighborhoods with footprints to both the past and the future.
South Los Angeles, which was once home to the largest African American community in the western United States, has been transformed by the arrival of Mexican and Central American immigrants. In 1990, South Los Angeles was 51 percent African American and 47 percent Latino; in 2010, Latinos made up 67 percent of the population and African Americans 31 percent.2
South Los Angeles has the largest percentage of African American and Latino residents of any service planning area within Los Angeles County. Forty-five percent of the county’s African American population and 17 percent of Latinos reside in this area.3
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Four Health Districts in South Los Angeles
South Los Angeles lies in the county’s service planning area (SPA) 6, which is further divided into four health districts:4
South Health District:
Florence (90001), Watts (90002), Willowbrook (90059), and West Compton/Los Angeles County (90061)
Southeast Health District:
South Central Los Angeles (90011) and Humphrey (90003)
Southwest Health District:
Adams (90016), Jefferson Park (90018), Exposition Park (90007, 90037), Crenshaw District (90008), Leimert Park (90062), Hyde Park (90043, 90047), and South Vermont (90044)
Compton Health District:
Compton (90220, 90221, 90222), Lynwood (90262), and Paramount (90723)
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Demographics: Our Patients’ Health Disparities5
The South Los Angeles and surrounding communities that we serve number about 1.1 million people. Compared with other residents throughout Los Angeles County and the country, the people of South Los Angeles were
|SPA 6 (% of population)||LA County (% of population)||US (% of population)|
|More likely to be Latino||67.7||48.1||16.3|
|More likely to be African American||28.5||8.5||12.8|
|Less likely to be white||2.0||28.9||64.8|
|Less likely to be Asian||1.6||14.3||5.2|
|Leading Cause||Premature Cause*|
|Cause||LA County||SPA 6||LA County||SPA 6|
|Motor vehicle accident||3||3|
*Premature death is death that occurs before the age of 75.
SPA 6 has the highest percentage (62%) of women over age 40 living at or below 200% of the FPL. Nearly 29 percent of women in the area are uninsured.8
The need for more access to preventive, primary, and managed care throughout South Los Angeles is clear.
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The Southside Coalition Story
The South Los Angeles Safety Net
How the Southside Coalition Is Strengthening the Local Safety Net
1RJ Smith. 2007.
2Socialexplorer.com; USC/Community Coalition; http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/25/us/in-south-los-angeles-a-changed-complexion-since-the-riots.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0 by Jennifer Medina.
3Annie Park et al. 2008.
4Critical Condition: Examining the Scope of Medical Services in South Los Angeles. 2007.
5LADPH. 2013 (March). Key Indicators of Health by Service Planning Area.
7David B. Howard. 2008.
8Los Angeles County Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure. 2012; LADPH (2007). Los Angeles County Health Survey.