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Thanks to Expensive Housing, 27 Percent of LA Lives in Poverty

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When you factor in the high cost of housing, California has the highest percentage of people living in poverty in the nation and Los Angeles has the highest percentage of people living in poverty in California, according to a new report from the California Housing Partnership Corporation (via the LA Times). Since 2000, rents statewide have increased 21 percent, while renters' incomes have decreased by eight percent (LA has the worst rent/wage discrepancy in the country). One in four children lives in poverty in the state, which the CHPC takes care to note is the "nation's largest and richest." And while poverty is "moderately high" in Los Angeles in particular (at 18.2 percent), the housing crisis pushes that rate to 26.9 percent: "In other words, nearly 3 in 10 households in California's most populous county are in poverty with high housing costs being a primary cause."

People in the lowest income quartile spend a disproportionately high amount of their earnings on rent: 67 percent. More than two-thirds.

As always, the root of the problem is a total lack of affordable housing. More than two million low-income California households are competing for a mere 664,000 affordable rental units.

What's worse: state and federal investment in affordable housing has dropped precipitously since 2008, from $2.6 billion to just $800 million. It's dropped dramatically in Los Angeles too.

And as bad as California is doing as a whole, Los Angeles is doing a whole lot worse. LA County alone accounts for a third of the state's affordable housing shortfall.

And an enormous 81 percent of the county's extremely low-income households (defined as households that earn less than 30 percent of the area's median income) are "severely rent burdened"; 56 percent of very low-income households (earning less than 50 percent of the area's median income) are as well.

It all adds up to this: nearly 27 percent of people in Los Angeles County live in poverty once they've paid their rent.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti has proposed a big plan for solving the housing crisis, but there's a lot of money to be raised and political will to be found. The full CHPC report is here. —Ian Grant
· Update on California's Affordable Housing Crisis [CHPC]
· Los Angeles's Big Plan For Pulling Out of Its Housing Crisis [Curbed LA]
· LA's Scary Shortage of Affordable Housing, By the Numbers [Curbed LA]
· Los Angeles Has the Biggest Disconnect in the US Between Wages and Rents [Curbed LA]