The good news is that Los Angeles is doing a comparatively great job providing rental housing for low-income families; the bad news is the actual amount of housing is still dismally low, among the lowest in the nation, at 18 units per 100 families who need housing. The Urban Institute has just released its study of the amount of affordable rental units available to families earning below 30 percent of the median income for their area ("extremely low-income); they found that there's not a single county in the US with an adequate supply of housing for its poorest families, leaving 72 percent of these families weighed down with high housing costs.
The report averages US Census data from 2011 to 2013, and factors in additional public data on affordable housing, including several sources from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, then compares to the numbers from 2000 and 2006. In Los Angeles, extremely low-income families were families of four earning no more than $24,850 in 2013. The number of those families has risen dramatically since the start of the century, from 383,332 in 2000 to 535,214 in 2013.
The number of rental units affordable to those families has risen too, but not at all quickly: there were 15 affordable units per family in 2000, 19 in 2006, and just 18 in 2013. Nearly all of those units that are available (all but one in 2013) are through HUD—federal housing assistance is essential for very low-income families, but it's been drying up quickly, which has started to overburden LA County's Public Housing Authority. The Urban Institute's report on the study says that "After flatlining investments and the impact of sequestration at the federal level, state and local policies to build and preserve affordable rental housing matter more than ever."
Incredibly, most counties actually lost affordable units between 2000 and 2013; Los Angeles is one of the few (nine) that added any at all. (Not a single county helped close its gap with higher wages; it was all through more units for extremely poor families. LA has, however, just raised its minimum wage very slightly.) Los Angeles was in fact the second most improved in the country, adding 38,200 units between 2000 and 2013, or 2.4 units per 100 extremely low-income families.
· The Housing Affordability Gap for Extremely Low-Income Renters in 2013 [Urban Institute]
· Every Single Part of Los Angeles is Unaffordable on $15/Hour [Curbed LA]
· A Lot More People Are Homeless in Los Angeles These Days [Curbed LA]
· Los Angeles's Big Plan For Pulling Out of Its Housing Crisis [Curbed LA]