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Title: “I Can’t Afford to Move”: Negotiating Neglect and Apartment Disrepair in Los Angeles

Sociologists have shown how displacement reproduces inequality among U.S. renters. Less is known about the experiences of renters prior to displacement, or how the trade-offs that renters adopt to avoid moves also stratify families. This article addresses this gap by examining how renters with few housing alternatives manage landlord neglect in routine maintenance. Using interviews with 131 non-Hispanic white and Latina/o, low- and middle-income renters living in Los Angeles, I find that unaffordable rental markets embed disadvantaged families, particularly low-income Latina/o immigrants, into substandard indoor living environments. Unable or reluctant to move, renters endure a process that I call negotiating neglect, which encompasses decision making around repair requests, following up with repair delays, investing personal funds into maintenance, and managing the health consequences of disrepair. Negotiating neglect demands substantial time, cognitive labor, and, at times, financial resources, and for some families, it is a chronic stressor. Taken together, these findings advance prior research on how unaffordable rental markets widen inequalities among families.

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Author(s) / Creator(s):
Publisher / Repository:
SAGE Publications
Date Published:
Journal Name:
City & Community
Medium: X
Sponsoring Org:
National Science Foundation
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