The devastating health and economic impacts of the outbreak of COVID-19 have been felt by every community in the United States and globally. In Los Angeles County, the effects of the pandemic have been particularly severe. Los Angeles County consistently leads the state and the country in the number of infections, deaths, and job losses. In particular, the pandemic has wreaked havoc in working-class communities of color which have suffered disproportionately high numbers of infections, death rates, and job losses. The financial instability that comes with job loss and inability to work at full capacity puts Angelenos, especially vulnerable communities who already bear long-standing effects of systemic inequality, in a precarious position regarding their housing. Prior to the outbreak of the COVID-19, Los Angeles County residents were already in the midst of a profound crisis of housing affordability and chronic housing shortages. The effects of the pandemic threaten to push Los Angeles from a housing crisis into a housing disaster.
“The thing that I’m most concerned with in this moment is protection for tenants and eviction defense because I was very compelled by the potential tsunami that will come with the lifting of the eviction moratoria … it is very significant and has to be addressed immediately”
Impacts of COVID-19 on Housing Affordability in Los Angeles County
The outbreak of COVID-19 has led to historically-high levels of unemployment, which will put hundreds of thousands of families at risk of not being able to meet their housing costs and other basic necessities. The human, social, and economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have been particularly severe in Los Angeles County. In Los Angeles County close to 1.2 million workers filed unemployment insurance claims between March 15 and May 9, 2020. According to official figures, the unemployment rate reached a peak of 21.1 percent in May 2020 and remained at 19.4 percent as of June 2020. These unemployment numbers are higher than California and the United States, and much higher than the worst unemployment numbers from the Great Recession. However, there is reason to believe that the number of applicants understates the actual number of people who lost their jobs, many of whom do not apply for unemployment insurance benefits.
This is particularly true in Los Angeles County, where those who do not apply include the 13 percent of the labor force who are undocumented, and thus ineligible for unemployment benefits, as well as those who are self-employed in the formal economy. Job losses have affected working-class people of color disproportionately. The unemployment rate was higher amongst Black and Latino workers, likely due to the fact that both groups are overrepresented in the most vulnerable sectors of the economy. The jobless rate for Black and Latino Californians was 22 percent and 26 percent, respectively. In comparison, the jobless rates for white and Asian American and Pacific Islander Californians reached 17 percent.
A bold, long-term plan for an affordable Los Angeles.
Black and Latino homeowners were 71 to 76 percent more likely to lose their homes after the crash than white homeowners (Healthy LA Coalition 2020).
- 76% 76%
Los Angeles County is currently 509,000 units short of its current demand for affordable housing units.
- 65% 65%
76 percent of students experiencing homelessness in Los Angeles County were Latino, and 10 percent were African American. Of the students in foster care, around 62 percent of students were Latino and around 25 percent were African American.
- 76% 76%