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Who Can Afford to Rent in California’s Many Regions?

Who Can Afford to Rent 2022 cover

As California’s housing crisis has deepened in recent years, more and more families have been affected, leading some state and local leaders to consider investing scarce resources to help the households earning at (or even above) the area median income (AMI). But what does the data show concerning the ability of households at each income level to afford market rents in different parts of the state? 

new California Housing Partnership analysis finds those households earning 100% of area median income (AMI)—can afford average asking rents in 55 of the 58 California counties while extremely low-income households (30% of AMI) cannot afford average asking rents in any county. Median-income households can afford modest rents in 81% of zip codes in California, with unaffordable zip codes primarily concentrated in Los Angeles County, the Central Coast, San Diego, and the Bay Area. The analysis concludes that state and local leaders should continue to prioritize scarce affordable housing resources for Californians at the lowest income levels first or risk further increasing the number of households living in poverty or without a home.

See the full brief here. (This report was updated on Dec. 20 to include additional analysis that to the appendix.)