Housing Affordability

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”

Fred Ali,

Committee for Greater LA

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%

16 Policy Recommendations on Housing Affordability in Los Angeles County

The report puts forward 16 recommendations for policy and practical action.

Extend Eviction Moratoria and Strengthen Tenant Protections.

Provide Rental Assistance Prioritizing Most Vulnerable Tenants

Rental Market Stabilization Program

Public Acquisition of Hotels and Motels for Conversion into Permanent Supportive Housing.age parents and students

Property Acquisition and Land Banking for Affordable Housing Development.

Increase and Align Funding Streams and Generate Revenue from New Sources for Construction of Affordable Housing

Streamline the Development Process

Zoning reform

Streamline the Development Process and Remove Barriers to Achieve Construction of 500,000 New Housing Units.

CEQA reform

Restructure Governance and Implement Meaningful Regional Accountability.

Center Racial Equity.

Generating new revenue: Transfer Tax

Generating new revenue: Proposition 15

Generating new revenue: Out-of-State Property Transation Tax

Generating new revenue: Emergency Bonding Authority

Our Streets Our Stories

“There’s no way that you can live in Los Angeles or Los Angeles County and not know when there is a clear demarcation between places and spaces that reflect those who are with and those who are without … there are a lot of preexisting realities that needed a change … I think that COVID has only exacerbated the recognition of where those inequities were already and definitely will continue to exist if great change is not brought”
Focus Group Participant