LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Illustrating the high cost of rent in Southern California, a new USC study finds that three local communities are among the top five nationally with the biggest gap between income and affordable rental housing.
The study finds that Los Angeles is fourth on the list of cities nationwide in income/rent disparity.
At fifth is the Riverside/San Bernardino region, with San Diego coming in second.
At the top of the list is Washington D.C.
"I'm not shocked. I'm a post-doc at USC and I pay more than 50 percent of my salary towards my rent which is way above the national average," said Smirthi Prasad, who lives in downtown Los Angeles.
Rents continue to rise, far outpacing increases in wages. The University of Southern California study also found that low income renters in LA remained unchanged, but the city lost 14 percent of the rentals from the lowest bracket.
"It misallocates your income. Instead of paying for restaurants or good schools, you're paying for rent and you get nothing back," said Dowell Myers, a USC professor who co-authored the study.
So why is this happening?
"1990s was really bad. We had a low level of new construction for a whole decade. The housing we did not build then is the affordable housing we should have had today," said Myers.
Myers says developers should continue to build luxury rentals, as seen by the boom in full-amenity buildings in downtown Los Angeles.
He says there's not enough people who can pay those rents so they'll come down, which would bring rent in middle-aged housing down as well.
Elisa Flores works downtown, but commutes from Lynwood because she can't afford rent.
"It's outrageously expensive and I can't keep up with the price. If I lived here, I would probably have to give up my car and a bunch of other things that I have that I don't want to give up. Our minimum wage that we get paid is not going up so it's hard," Flores said.