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Los Angeles Needs Half a Million More Affordable Housing Units

Contractors inspect new homes under construction at the Playa Vista community development in Los Angeles on March 19
Contractors inspect new homes under construction at the Playa Vista community development in Los Angeles on March 19Photograph by Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg

California’s housing market has long been among the most expensive in the country, and the economic downturn has only made the situation worse. That’s one of the findings in a new report (pdf) from the California Housing Partnership Corporation, a nonprofit group set up by the state, that determined that Los Angeles County needs at least 490,340 more affordable homes to ease the housing burden on the state’s poorest residents. The county-level results echo the group’s February report (pdf) that found Californians need almost 1 million additional affordable housing units statewide.

The CHPC’s reports are, frankly, devastating. The problem they lay out is that the financial crisis turned owners into renters while driving wages down at the same time. In Los Angeles County, rents went up 25 percent from 2000 to 2012, but incomes fell 9 percent over the same period. (This includes adjustments for inflation.)