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Black population drops 24% in Pasadena

Asian population in the city grew 46% from 2000 to 2010, according to census.

August 05, 2011|By Adolfo Flores

Nearly one-quarter of Pasadena’s African American residents left the city in the last 10 years, replaced mostly by Asians and Pacific Islanders, according to 2010 Census figures.

A lack of affordable housing and shifts in the real estate market spurred black families to leave town, according to observers, while Asian families from around the San Gabriel Valley opted for a Pasadena address.

The number of whites and Latinos, who together represent more than 60% of city residents, changed little between 2000 and 2010. But the city saw a 24% reduction in the number of black residents, from more than 19,000 to 14,650. The number of Asians and Pacific Islanders grew 46%, from 13,500 to nearly 20,000.


The shift is part of a larger trend of black families leaving communities where they’ve long had a presence, said Dowell Myers, professor of urban planning and demography at USC.

Other cities with entrenched black populations, including Inglewood and Compton, also saw the number of black residents decline, Myers said. That happened even as California gained more than 3,000 African American homeowners and 39,000 renters since 2000, according to the census.

The greatest reduction in African Americans in Pasadena was among children under 10 and adults in their 30s.

“It’s renters that are leaving — not homeowners, who are mostly older African Americans,” Myers said. “Younger people may be going into areas like Lancaster, Palmdale or Moreno Valley.”

Others agreed that a lack of affordable housing in Pasadena is forcing African American families to move to less expensive areas.

Michelle White, executive director of the Pasadena nonprofit Affordable Housing Services, said recent affordable projects have been designed to help the homeless or the near-homeless at the expense of other families.

“We’re robbing Peter to pay Paul,” White said. “There are more than 20,000 low-income [people] that are in need of affordable housing. Typically, blacks are highly represented in that number.”

White listed several ways the city could have done more for families. For example, she said, a proposed ordinance to allow homeowners in Pasadena to have two units on a single lot has not gained traction at City Hall. In addition, a proposal for 75 units at the former Desiderio Army Reserve Center gave way to a nine-unit Habitat for Humanity project.

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