THE HOUSING CRISIS
The state of housing in L.A. is no joke. The average Angelino makes just $27,000 per year but spends over 47% of that on rent. Economists put the "healthy" percentage of income dedicated to housing at half that. With the number of affordable living units in our city dwindling and the number of homeless rising, it's getting more and more difficult to ignore the roots of our housing crisis. Below are some facts and anecdotes everyone should know about the issue.
MORE RESIDENTS THAN RESIDENCES
People are flocking to LA, but developers have little incentive to build affordable housing. A recent report by the state's bipartisan Legislative Analyst's Office concluded that, ""A shortage of housing results in high and rising housing costs." They project that lack of new apartments will actually force higher-income folks to compete for lower-income housing, pushing middle- and lower-income renters further and further from their jobs, or into undesirable living, economic, or lifestyle situations--even homelessness.
RISING STUDENT HOMELESSNESS
Unable to afford tuition, UCLA PhD student Louis Tse moved
into his car and uses campus facilities to keep himself clean. Louis's story is an increasingly common one, with the California university system estimating 1 in 10 Cal State students are homeless. And in the city of LA, community college student homelessness comprises 18% of the population.
THE RISING CLASS OF VEHICULAR HOMELESS
John has been living in his car on and off for three years, following a costly divorce and struggling to find contracting work. He keeps his appearance and his Ford presentable, doing his best to stay unnoticed while he pinches pennies and awaits the next opportunity. “We try to live as normal a life as possible,” John says. “After a while it can get difficult to have a positive attitude out here.”
DIMINISHING QUALITY OF LIFE
A study by the National Low Income Housing Coalition cwas quoted as saying, "Tackling our affordability crisis isn’t just the right thing to do — it’s also one of the best ways we can invest in our nation’s long term growth and competitiveness... and is one of the most important steps we can take to help people succeed today, and live healthier lives long into the future."
Elizabeth and her husband lost their home after being laid off,
resorting to selling off Elizabeth’s jewelry to pay for meals. Rents in Los Angeles increased by 8.3% in 2015 and nearly as high in the years since. At the current rate of spending to meet the expectations of professional classes, many young professionals may never be able to afford homeownership and many middle-class families will struggle to keep them.
PAYCHECK TO PAYCHECK
A recent Federal Reserve Board survey found that most Americans are ill-equipped to handle unexpected emergency expenses, with 47% unable to handle a $400 emergency without borrowing or selling something. With housing commonly the most expensive line item in a person's budget, lack of affordable living options means no safety net between struggling to make rent and living on the streets.
STATE OF EMERGENCY
There are roughly 50,000 homeless people in Los Angeles, leading lawmakers to label the trend an epidemic. The interim director of the National Coalition for the Homeless, Megan Hustings, said this about the crisis: “This is the fallout of not having anywhere near the affordable housing that’s needed. It is repeated all over the country: We work to get them emergency food and shelter, but housing continues to be unaffordable, so you see people lingering in emergency services or going to the streets.”