South Los Angeles Residents Being Forced to Buy Unnecessary Flood Insurance

By Jorge Rivas Nov 06, 2009

Hundreds of Los Angeles area home owners are being forced to buy unnecessary flood insurance with steep fees. Why? Because FEMA, using 40 year-old maps, has declared their neighborhoods as flood zones. The city could have intervened, but they failed to act. One of the areas hardest hit is South Los Angeles, which is predominantly made up of low-income Black and Latino residents. South L.A. is 10 miles away from the nearest ocean and 7 miles away from the nearest river and hasn’t seen a flood since the 1920’s when the homes were built, yet residents with federally backed home mortgages are being forced to buy high-risk flood insurance that starts out at $900.00 a year. All of the South L.A. residents affected could appeal FEMA’s decision but the process cost homeowners more than $1,200 upfront and many of them don’t have it so they’re forced in to buying flood insurance on monthly payment plans so they can keep their homes. South L.A.’s Black and Latino residents are disproportionately affected because they can’t afford to appeal. In the neighboring and more affluent West L.A area home owners who can afford to appeal are doing so and are able to avoid having to buy flood insurance. Watch the SoCal Connected investigation above.