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The Average Angeleno is Now Paying Nearly Half Their Income Toward Rent

Wages are still stagnant, building is still slow, and the housing situation in Los Angeles is still really fucked. More fucked than ever, actually. The latest numbers from Zillow show that the average Los Angeles renter is paying 48.9 percent of their income toward rent. That's not the average low-income person or the average mansion-renter, that's a person earning the median income in Los Angeles, putting nearly half of that paycheck toward a place to live every month. That makes Los Angeles once again the least affordable place to rent in the country—less affordable than New York, less affordable than San Francisco, less affordable than San Jose, by rather a lot (San Francisco is the closest at 46.7 percent).

Economists recommend that a third of a person's income go toward housing costs; beyond that, people have to start ignoring other expenses, their quality of living deteriorates, and the entire local economy suffers. And yet here we are in Los Angeles with the average person paying nearly half their income toward rent.

Zillow also compared the historical numbers—between 1985 and 2000, the average Los Angeles renter was only paying 35.6 percent of their income toward rent. Already more than a third, but not entirely, civilization-collapsingly unreasonable.

So the best thing to do if you're paying insane amounts of your money toward rent is to miraculously save enough money for a down payment and buy a place to live. That is still pretty unaffordable, but it's way less unaffordable: the average homebuyer in LA only has to contribute 39.9 percent of their income toward a mortgage payment, as long as they've made a 20 percent down payment (historically it was 34.6 percent).

But can you really save for a down payment when you're putting half your income toward rent every month? Can you save for that surgery your doctor really says you need? No and no, says Zillow's chief economist: "Our research found that unaffordable rents are making it hard for people to save for a down payment and retirement, and that people whose rent is unaffordable are more likely to skip out on their own healthcare." Unsurprisingly, Los Angeles has the lowest homeownership rate in the country.
· Renting Less Affordable Than Ever Before, While Mortgages Remain Affordable, by Historical Standards [Zillow]
· Los Angeles Has the Biggest Disconnect in the US Between Wages and Rents [Curbed LA]
· Every Single Part of Los Angeles is Unaffordable on $15/Hour [Curbed LA]