More Than Half of Los Angeles Households are Drowning Under High Housing Costs, Says New Report

Housing Is A Human Right
3 min readApr 25, 2024


A new, disturbing report by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health has found that more than half of the households in the city of Los Angeles are drowning under high housing costs. Worse, nearly a third of them are living with “severe housing burden.” The findings show the urgent need to stabilize the housing affordability crisis in L.A. and other California cities by expanding rent control.

The L.A. County report comes on the heels of a recent study by Eviction Lab, a prestigious research institute at Princeton University, that found high rents cause increased mortality rates. Put simply, sky-high rents equal more deaths.

Housing is clearly a public health issue, which is why the Department of Public Health examined housing costs in Los Angeles and other cities in L.A. County for its “community health profiles” project. It’s also a major reason why AIDS Healthcare Foundation, the parent organization of Housing Is A Human Right, decided to tackle the housing affordability and homelessness crises, understanding that people’s lives are on the line. AHF has a long history of responding to public health crises.

The Department of Public Health found 51.4 percent of households in the city of Los Angeles are living with “housing burden,” spending 30 percent or more of their incomes on housing costs. In addition, 27.5 percent of those households are dealing with “severe housing burden,” shelling out 50 percent or more of their incomes for housing. Alarming numbers.

The Department of Public Health also found that 46.8 percent of all households in Los Angeles County are housing burdened, and 23.9 percent are severely housing burdened. Troubling.

It’s no surprise that L.A. County and the city of Los Angeles are facing a devastating homelessness crisis: a highly regarded study by UC San Francisco found that skyrocketing rents are fueling homelessness.

All of the reports add up to one conclusion: elected officials need to act immediately to prevent more homelessness and more deaths, using community-based solutions.

Housing Is A Human Right has long advocated for the “3 Ps”: protect tenants through rent control and other renter rights; preserve existing affordable housing, not demolish it to make way for more luxury housing that most people can’t afford; and produce new affordable and homeless housing.

Rent control is especially important with people’s lives in immediate danger. Top researchers at USC and UC Berkeley found that rent control will quickly stabilize the housing affordability crisis, and prominent economists recently sent a letter to the Biden administration that says the same thing. Rent control will help save lives.

Corporate landlords and other real estate insiders, however, have shown no concern about the life-threatening impacts of charging wildly inflated rents. Over the years, they’ve spent hundreds of millions to kill rent control ballot measures in California and other states. Why? Big Real Estate wants to maintain its ability to charge whatever rent they like — no matter the consequences to the rest of us.

But a broad coalition of housing justice groups, social justice organizations, labor unions, and civic leaders are working to pass the Justice for Renters Act in November. The statewide ballot measure, which is sponsored by Housing Is A Human Right and AIDS Healthcare Foundation, will allow cities to expand rent control.

Corporate landlords and their front group, the California Apartment Association (known in many circles as the California “Anti-tenant” Association), are already scheming to kill the initiative, and activists expect a massive misinformation campaign by Big Real Estate.

In the end, California voters, millions of whom are handing over huge chunks of their paychecks to landlords, will have the final say. With so many lives at stake, activists are urging Californians to vote “yes” for the Justice for Renters Act.

Patrick Range McDonald, the author of this article, is the award-winning advocacy journalist for Housing Is A Human Right.



Housing Is A Human Right

Housing Is A Human Right is the housing advocacy division of AIDS Healthcare Foundation. We fight for what’s right.