Rent Burden

How do Los Angeles Residents Cope with Unaffordability?

The Los Angeles region faces a deep and worsening housing affordability crisis. As low-income residents are forced to spend a greater share of their limited incomes on rent, they must make trade-offs, choosing between rent and basic necessities such as food, education, and healthcare.

Research has identified some of the trade-offs resulting from rent burden—a critical threshold that signifies vulnerability when residents spend over 30 percent of their income on rent—but the field still lacks critical information about how residents cope and to what end, which hinders ongoing efforts by community organizations and institutions to support them. In response, the USC Sol Price Center for Social Innovation is undertaking a broad research agenda to better understand residents’ perceptions and experiences of rent burden.

The Price Center is conducting a survey of 800 rent-burdened households in Los Angeles focused on the two Promise Zones in Central and South Los Angeles: two areas characterized by high poverty, large immigrant populations, a high proportion of rent-burdened residents, and significant gentrification pressures. The survey is being offered in both Spanish and English, employing a random sampling of street blocks and households within street blocks.

This research builds upon evidence from focus groups conducted in partnership with organizations across South Los Angeles to better understand the complex and cumulative effects of rent burden. During these sessions, residents not only voiced the obstacles they faced in meeting basic needs, but also expressed a clear vision for the future.

Our affordability work is made possible through collaborations with CDTech, Community Coalition, SCOPE, SAJE, Esperanza Community Housing, and T.R.U.S.T. South L.A., as well as funding from the John Randolph Haynes and Dora Haynes Foundation.


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Rising Rent Burden in Los Angeles

While Southern California homeownership once symbolized the achievement of the California Dream, Los Angeles now has one of the most populated rental markets in the country. With 60% of Angelenos occupying the rental market, the city joins New York, Miami, and San Francisco as major cities with the highest rates of renters.



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