A new UCLA study found that more than half of renters across all racial groups are rent-burdened in Los Angeles County, with Black renters having the highest rate.
The study by the UCLA Latino Policy and Politics Institute Latino Data Hub zoomed in on Latino renters. It found that within that segment, Afro-Latino and Indigenous renters face the highest rates of severe housing cost burden, meaning more than 50% of their monthly household income goes to rent and utilities.
"We hope to, by providing this data, people can have a more direct understanding of the housing issues that are faced by renters in L.A. County," said Jie Zong, co-author of the factsheet and senior research analyst at UCLA LPPI.
Researchers stressed that the end of some pandemic-era renter protections in the City of L.A. raises concerns about the impact on rent-burdened individuals, particularly Latino and Black renters.
Among employed Latinos, the study found Hondurans face the highest rate of housing cost burden at 51% followed by Guatemalans, Salvadorans, and South Americans (between 46% and 50%).
The study also highlighted that among all Latinos living in rented homes, female renters experienced slightly higher rates of moderate and severe housing cost burdens compared to males. The widest gender disparity by descent was experienced by Guatemalans, Puerto Ricans, and Hondurans, and the narrowest was found among South Americans and Mexicans.
Northeast Los Angeles renter Carmen Braxton said single mothers and older adults are especially impacted. Braxton said she, like others, has at times lived paycheck-to-paycheck choosing between rent and food. Braxton spends more than half of her Social Security benefits on rent. She stresses many fell behind financially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Yes, there was help," said Braxton. "But not enough."
Braxton is part of the tenant-led Los Angeles Tenants Union. The union helped her avoid an eviction a few years ago. She now holds weekly meetings and door knocks to ensure tenants know their rights.
"To talk, see what we can do as a group," said Braxton.