More Than Half of Us Struggled to Make the Rent Last Year

More Than Half of Us Struggled to Make the Rent Last Year
Andy Perkins/L.A. Weekly

As we head toward a new year, Los Angeles' housing crisis isn't getting any better.

Despite attention from City Hall, it seems to be getting worse.

Rental website Apartment List says nearly 62 percent of L.A. residents "struggled to make rent last year." The site says that's the percentage of us who are "cost-burdened," or who pay 30 percent or more of our income on keeping roofs over our heads.

Statewide the figure is nearly 57 percent, the site says. That almost matches the 57.7 percent high of cost-burdened renters in the state in 2011. And it's three percent higher than in 2007.

Apartment List says 3.2 million Golden State residents pay too much of their incomes for rent.

While rents grew in California in recent years, income didn't, the site says. In Los Angeles, rents rose by 23 percent between 2007 and 2014, Apartment List says. Income grew only five percent during that time.

A recent report by the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University came to a similar conclusion for greater Los Angeles — that 58.5 percent of renters are either severely or moderately cost-burdened.

Nationwide, Harvard says, renters' real incomes have actually declined since 2001. More Americans are renting their housing than at any point in American history since the mid-1950s, the school says.

The report blames tighter credit, foreclosure, flat income and an apartment-crazed influx of different demographics, from millennials to baby boomers, for the rental crisis.

"Record-setting demand for rental housing due to demographic trends, the residual consequences of the foreclosure crisis, and an increased appreciation of the benefits of being a renter has led to strong growth in the supply of rental housing over the past decade both through new construction and the conversion of formerly owner-occupied homes to rentals,” said Chris Herbert, managing director of the Joint Center For Housing Studies at Harvard.

Apartment List, meanwhile, notes in a statement that "Southern California hosted the least affordable cities, all located in close proximity to Los Angeles."

The site looked at the percentage of cost-burdened renters in each city and concluded that these are the least-affordable towns in the state: Lynwood (number one), El Monte (2), Baldwin Park (3), Corona (4) and Compton (5).

"Overall," Apartment List says, "California is one of the most unaffordable states for renters to live in."


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