As factions battle over the future shape of Los Angeles, with the pro-development Build Better L.A. initiative headed for the November ballot and the anti-development Neighborhood Integrity Initiative aiming for a March election, a new report from Harvard finds that L.A. is in dire need of new housing.

The State of the Nation’s Housing report from Harvard's Joint Center for Housing Studies says Los Angeles is short 382,000 units for extremely low-income renters. That might help explain the alarming number of homeless people on our streets.

“Indeed,” the report says, “more than one in five homeless people live in New York City or Los Angeles. In 2014–2015 alone, the homeless population in New York City increased by 11 percent and in Los Angeles by 20 percent.”

And, because rent here is high relative to income, L.A. ranks as one of America's “least-affordable metros,” according to the report.

“Austin, Dallas, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Orlando, Phoenix, Portland, Riverside, Sacramento and San Diego all had no more than one affordable and available unit for every five extremely low-income renter households living in the area,” the report states.

Housing prices have squeezed even higher-income folks into rentals, the report indicates, making things worse for traditional renters nationwide.

“While more than a third of renter households earn less than $25,000, a sizable and growing number of high-income households also choose to rent for the flexibility and convenience it provides,” a summary says.

Indeed, despite their lower numbers, Americans in their 30s and 40s accounted for 3 million new renters in the United States in the last decade, Harvard says, while those 30 and younger added 1 million people to the rental market.

Home ownership is on a 10-year “downtrend,” adding even more folks to the rental mix, the report found, and contributing to the “eroding affordability of rental housing” nationwide.

A few years ago, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said we needed to built 100,000 new units just to keep up with housing demand in the city. Looks like he might need to revise that number.

Credit: Harvard

Credit: Harvard

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