The Housing Crisis Is Now an Election Issue

Little Tokyo
Little Tokyo

The growing ranks of the homeless in Los Angeles and the city's untenable gap between low incomes and high rents could have you believing that L.A. is an island of insanity that's slowly peeling away from the rest of America.

But the truth is that much of the nation is feeling housing pain to some degree. The number of Americans who own homes is at its lowest level in half a century, according to Harvard's Joint Center for Housing Studies. The Great Recession still resonates seven years after it officially ended.

A new poll from Ipsos Public Affairs and a pro-renters' campaign called Make Room has found that 72 percent of likely voters from coast to coast believe that affordable housing should be a part of the Democrats' and Republicans' 2016 presidential campaign platforms.

Broken down by party, 84 percent of Democrats, 58 percent of Republicans and 69 percent of independents believe affordable housing should be a major issue during this election cycle. 

And 76 percent of likely voters say they would be more likely support a candidate who has made affordable housing a key issue on the campaign trail, Ipsos found. Ninety-two percent of registered Democrats, 55 percent of Republicans and 78 percent of independents said they were more likely to support a candidate with a pro–affordable housing stance.

"The dual challenges of rising rents and stagnant wages do not discriminate," says Angela Boyd, managing director of Make Room. "Millions of Americans, regardless of political affiliations, are struggling to afford their homes and are living in fear of an unexpected expense or reduction in hours at work leading to eviction or homelessness. Candidates for public office and current elected officials must prioritize housing affordability and be clear with voters about their plans for addressing this issue."

Make Room has found that one in four American renters pay half or more of their income for housing. In Los Angeles, about one-third of renters are "cost-burdened," meaning they spend too much — at least 30 percent of their incomes — on housing, according to Make Room. The National Low Income Housing Coalition determined that three out of four low-income L.A. renters pay half or more of their take-home pay on their leases.


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