Los Angeles is Getting Even Less Affordable For Renters

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The entire state of California has a pretty severe housing shortage and the high costs of housing are driving out people who work necessary low-skill jobs, but that’s across the whole state. What about a little closer to home, in the Los Angeles metro area? New findings from the NYU Furman Center and CapitalOne do not paint a rosy at all picture of the LA rental scene, unfortunately.

The report, which looked at 11 of the nation’s largest metro areas, found that greater LA renters are the second most burdened by their rent (both moderately and severely), with a depressing 60 percent of renters paying more than 30 percent of their income (moderate burden) towards housing.

The share of households who were paying 50 percent of their income or more toward their gross rent (and are therefore considered severely rent burdened) rose from 29 percent in 2006 percent to 33 percent in 2014—”a larger increase than in any other metro area we studied,” says the report. Kicking in a larger share of income towards rent means there’s less to go around for other expenses, like education, healthcare, or—dream of dreams—saving money.

A bar graph showing the median gross rent for 11 metros in 2014.
The median gross rent, 2014.
All images via National Affordable Rental Housing Landscape

Greater LA’s gross median rent was the third highest of the 11 large metros surveyed; only San Francisco and Washington, DC had higher medians. Renters’ incomes, though, were just the fifth highest of the 11 metro areas.

Which, overall, made Los Angeles the second least affordable of all the metros surveyed. In 2014, only 21 percent of recently available units were affordable to the median renter household in the greater LA area—”a lower share than in all but one of the metro areas in our study.”

A chart showing the share of recently available units affordable to the median metro area renter.A chart showing the share of recently available units affordable to the median metro area renter.
The share of recently available units affordable to the median metro area renter.

A big part of the issue is that wages still aren’t keeping up with rents, says the report, making units more out of reach to renters. And “when renters struggle to find an affordable unit on the market, they are more likely to remain in housing that is overcrowded or too expensive.” And they’re definitely not planning on buying a house.

A chart of the median renter household income in 11 metros for 2014.A chart of the median renter household income in 11 metros for 2014.
The median renter household income for 2014.
A chart showing the share of renters that are burdened by their rent, and how burdened they are. A chart showing the share of renters that are burdened by their rent, and how burdened they are.
Percentages of rent-burdened, according to the extent of their burden.
A breakdown of the affordability stats from the report in spreadsheet style form. A breakdown of the affordability stats from the report in spreadsheet style form.
A breakdown of the affordability stats from the report for the Los Angeles metro area.

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