The Los Angeles Times explains that “according to the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, housing is ‘affordable’ if rent and utilities cost no more than 30% of your total income each month… [and] households spending more than that amount are considered rent burdened.” California has the highest poverty rate in the country. The Los Angeles region not only has the highest poverty rate in California but has long faced a worsening housing affordability crisis. The Census Bureau data shows that prior to the COVID-19 pandemic nearly half the households in L.A. County were rent burdened. Further, a 2020 survey found that 3 out of 4 households in South and Central Los Angeles were rent burdened. California Housing Consortium describes the benefits of affordable housing, some of which include the following:
- Bolsters economic growth: Research shows that the shortage of affordable housing costs the American economy about $2 trillion a year in lower wages and productivity. Without affordable housing, families have constrained opportunities to increase earnings, causing slower GDP (gross domestic product or GDP is the standard measure of the value added created through the production of goods and services in a country during a certain period) growth. The development of affordable housing can boost local economic activity through temporary construction related employment (e.g., architects, construction workers, general contractors, property managers, etc.) and ongoing consumer driven jobs in Los Angeles.
- Workforce retention: Access to affordable housing improves an employer’s ability to attract and retain employees and remain competitive the in global economy.
- Reduces intergenerational poverty: Increasing access to affordable housing is recognized as one of the most cost-effective strategies for reducing childhood poverty. A growing body of research suggests that children living in stable, affordable homes are more likely to thrive in school with greater opportunities for educational success. As Insights from Housing Policy Research articulates “a supportive and stable home environment can complement the efforts of educators, leading to improved student achievement.” By reducing involuntary resident mobility (e.g., eviction, inability to make rent payments, unhealthy or undesirable living conditions, etc.) access to affordable housing can improve school performance, health, and overall wellbeing.
- Significant savings on social service costs, healthcare, and public safety systems: Housing instability and homelessness have serious negative impacts on child and adult health. Access to affordable housing can improve health by providing stability and freeing up resources for necessities. Affordable housing reduces social service costs by providing targeted health and social services. For example, services for low-income families may include adult education, financial literacy programs, health and wellness programs, childcare, and after-school programs.
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