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Los Angeles Has the Biggest Disconnect in the US Between Wages and Rents

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Sorry to sound like a broken record, but Los Angeles is in a rental crisis-is-is-is-is-is-is-is. It has the highest rental rate in the country, the most renters paying untenably high amounts of their incomes toward rent, and now a new report from the NYU Furman Center *and Capital One reveals that the city has the biggest lag of all major rental cities between rents (rising!) and wages (falling), meaning renting in the city is becoming more and more unaffordable for the average wage slave. Meanwhile, *vacancy rates are dramatically low, suggesting there's just not enough housing being built for middle-income renters (there's a lot of luxury housing going up, but that's not much help).

The Furman Center found that the population of renters grew 11 percent between 2006 and 2013 (that's a lower rate than most other big cities, probably because LA already had a lot of renters). In the same time, rents have gone up 11 percent while wages have fallen by 4 percent, creating the biggest lag in the US. (New York came closest, with 12 percent rent growth and flat wages.)

That's made renting increasingly unaffordable even for moderate-income renters; 38 percent in that group are paying at least half their income toward housing, far more than the recommended third (more than a third starts to cut into other expenses, which is bad of course for renters, but also bad for the economy at large). Moderate-income renters trying to stay within the one-third guideline can only afford 28 percent of "recently available rental units." An analysis by Zillow in December found a renter should be making $97,160 a year to afford the average LA rental.

That means low-income renters are being totally screwed. In Los Angeles, they can afford just 5 percent of available apartments, which is probably why some of LA's lowest-income zip codes also have the most crowded housing. But a lot of people are just leaving: in roughly the same period covered by the report, nearly a quarter-million more working people moved out of California than in, and almost everyone who left was making less than $50,000 a year.

· Renting in America's Largest Cities [NYU Furman Center]
· 21 Signs That 2014 Was the Year of LA's Rental Apocalypse [Curbed LA]