L.A’s heavy rent bur­den

Over half of city’s poor­est house­holds spent bulk of in­come on rent, study says.

Los Angeles Times - - CITY & STATE - By Gale Hol­land ghol­land @la­times.com Twit­ter: @gehol­land

Los Angeles and New York City top the list of U.S. cities with the most poor peo­ple la­bor­ing un­der heavy rent bur­dens, liv­ing in sub­stan­dard hous­ing, or both, ac­cord­ing to a U.S. De­part­ment of Hous­ing and Ur­ban Af­fairs study re­leased Wed­nes­day.

More than half of Los Angeles’ 1 mil­lion very poor house­holds, or 567,000, spent more than half their in­come on rent or re­sorted to un­de­sir­able hous­ing in 2015, the study said.

In New York City, 44% of the very poor also strug­gled to af­ford hous­ing, but be­cause there were more of them — 1.8 mil­lion — the num­ber fall­ing into what the study called the “worst-case hous­ing needs” cat­e­gory was higher, 815,000.

More than half of very low-in­come peo­ple in Mi­ami, Phoenix and Riverside also strug­gled to pay the rent, the study said.

Ris­ing rents have been linked to Los Angeles’ ex­plo­sive home­less­ness prob­lem, which grew 23% last year, to 58,000 peo­ple coun­ty­wide, of­fi­cials re­ported based on a Jan­uary street and shel­ter count.

A re­port ear­lier this month by real es­tate firm Zil­low found that 2,000 more peo­ple would be pushed into home­less­ness by a 5% rent hike — just over the 4.5% jump the com­pany fore­casts for L.A. next year. The com­pany said rent in­creases are closely tied to bur­geon­ing home­less­ness in cities in­clud­ing Los Angeles, Seat­tle and New York City, where there is lit­tle low-in­come hous­ing for those priced out of rapidly gen­tri­fy­ing neigh­bor­hoods to go to.

Na­tion­wide, HUD re­ported that the num­ber of house­holds with worst-case hous­ing needs bal­looned 66% since 2001, with record in­creases be­tween 2007 and 2011, when mort­gage fore­clo­sures and unem­ploy­ment dra­mat­i­cally ex­panded. Those af­fected cut across racial and eth­nic groups and re­gional bor­ders, and in­cluded fam­i­lies with chil­dren, se­nior cit­i­zens and peo­ple with dis­abil­i­ties, HUD said in its re­port.

While in­comes rose be­tween 2013 and 2015, rents in­creased nearly as fast, and rent hikes for the poor­est ten­ants out­paced in­come gains, the re­port said. The study ex­cluded renters who re­ceive govern­ment hous­ing aid.

“Today’s af­ford­able rental hous­ing cri­sis re­quires that we take a more buis­ness-like ap­proach on how the public sec­tor can reduce the reg­u­la­tory bar­ri­ers so the pri­vate mar­kets can pro­duce more hous­ing for more fam­i­lies,” HUD Sec­re­tary Ben Car­son said in re­leas­ing the study.

Francine Orr Los Angeles Times

A HOME­LESS per­son sleeps next to a gro­cery cart near Hoover Street in South Los Angeles.

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