Children Living in Crowded Households, by Legislative District

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Learn More About Housing Affordability and Resources

Measures of Housing Affordability and Resources on provides four measures related to housing affordability and resources:
Measures of households with a high housing cost burden, children in crowded households, and children in households with broadband-connected devices are available for:
  • Counties and county groups, as single-year estimates
  • Cities, school districts, and counties with populations of at least 10,000, as 5-year estimates
Housing cost burden and crowded household data also are available for legislative districts, as 5-year estimates.
Housing Affordability and Resources
Family Income and Poverty
Family Structure
Food Security
Childhood Adversity and Resilience
Why This Topic Is Important
Housing plays a critical role in children's health and well being, beyond providing immediate shelter (1, 2). Children and families need affordable, stable, safe homes, adequate household resources, healthy neighborhoods, and access to quality opportunities, education, and services—all of these factors are intricately connected and influence life outcomes at all ages (1, 2, 3). However, housing system inequities persist, limiting access to safe, affordable housing and related resources for vulnerable groups, including low-income families, people of color, and those with disabilities (1, 3, 4).

The U.S. has set a public health objective of reducing the proportion of families whose housing costs represent more than 30% of total household income, the level at which housing is considered affordable (2). California housing is among the most costly in the nation, creating a significant challenge for many of the state's middle- and low-income families (4, 5). According to 2021 estimates, only 39% of low-income children in the U.S. and 27% of low-income children in California lived in affordable housing (6). Spending more than 30% of income on housing may mean forgoing food, health care, or other essential items, which is associated with an increased risk of disease and mental health problems (2, 6). Families with a high housing cost burden also may struggle to afford important resources such as broadband-connected devices, which are increasingly important for education, employment, access to health care, social connections, and other family needs (7). Statewide and nationally, this digital divide has a disproportionate impact on rural populations, people with disabilities, families of color, and those with less education (7).

In some cases, a lack of affordable housing can result in families living in crowded households (2). Residential crowding is linked to poor health outcomes, including infectious disease transmission, sleep problems, stress, and mental health difficulties (2). Even when families are not in crowded homes, unaffordable or unstable housing can disrupt children's health and diminish their opportunities for educational success due to increased chances of moving, changing schools, and interrupting instruction (1, 2, 8).
For more information, see’s Research & Links section.

Sources for this narrative:

1.  Reece, J. (2021). More than shelter: Housing for urban maternal and infant health. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 18(7), 3331. Retrieved from:

2.  Healthy People 2030. (n.d.). Social determinants of health literature summaries: Housing instability. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Retrieved from:

3.  Schneider, A., & Gibbs, H. (2022). Disparities in housing, health care, child care, and economic security affect babies for life. Center for American Progress. Retrieved from:

4.  Mesquita, A., & Kimberlin, S. (2022). Who is experiencing housing hardship in California? California Budget and Policy Center. Retrieved from:

5.  National Low Income Housing Coalition. (2022). Out of reach: The high cost of housing. Retrieved from:

6.  KIDS COUNT Data Center. (2022). Children in low-income households with a high housing cost burden. Annie E. Casey Foundation. Retrieved from:,1729,37,871,870,573,869,36,868,867/asc/any/377

7.  PACEs Connection, & California Essentials for Childhood Initiative. (2022). Community strategies to address California's digital divide and its impact on children and families. Retrieved from:

8.  American Academy of Pediatrics, Council on Community Pediatrics. (2022). Providing care for children and adolescents facing homelessness and housing insecurity. Pediatrics, 131(6), 1206-1210. Retrieved from:
How Children Are Faring
Fair market rents vary widely across California regions, from $770 (Modoc County) to $3,339 (Marin, San Francisco, and San Mateo Counties) per month for a two-bedroom unit in fiscal year 2020.

In 2021, an estimated 42% of California households were housing cost-burdened, meaning they spent at least 30% of income on housing. This figure is down from 49% in 2010 but remains higher than national estimates which were 38% or lower over this period. Among counties with data in 2016-2020, estimates ranged from 28% (Inyo) to 47% (Los Angeles) of households experiencing a high housing cost burden.

The share of California children ages 0-17 living in crowded households (i.e., in homes with more than one person per room) was 27% in 2022, nearly twice the estimate for children nationwide. Similar to other housing and economic measures, percentages vary at the local level; for example, across California cities, school districts, and legislative districts with data in 2016-2020, the proportion of children experiencing household overcrowding ranged from 1 in 125 to nearly 2 in 3.

According to 2022 estimates, 96% of California children lived in households with a device connected to high-speed internet service, similar to 95% nationally. Children's internet access at home varies by region and demographic characteristics, with larger shares of children in English-proficient households, children living with two parents, children in higher-income families, and Asian American, multiracial, and white children having broadband-connected devices in the home compared with children in other groups.
Policy Implications
Affordable, stable, safe housing and adequate household resources are linked directly to positive health, academic, and economic outcomes for children and families (1, 2). Affordable housing is in extremely short supply across the U.S., and California's housing costs are among the highest in the nation (3, 4). Certain groups are disproportionately affected by the state's housing crisis, particularly lower-income families, immigrants, young people, those with disabilities, and communities of color (2, 3). These disparities are the results of decades of discrimination in housing policies and practices (1, 2).

California has enacted a host of policy changes to improve the affordability and supply of housing, and both state and local governments have expanded funding to address high housing costs and homelessness (3). While these are significant steps forward, many more investments and efforts will be needed across sectors and levels of government to fully address the state's housing problems (2, 5). Policymakers can support housing solutions while prioritizing equity, mitigating family poverty, helping vulnerable families stay in their homes, and promoting family stability (2, 5, 6).

In addition to the challenges of obtaining affordable housing, many California families have limited resources at home, including access to high-speed internet, which is increasingly critical for education, employment, health care, social connections, and other important needs and services (7, 8). Disparities in access to digital resources persist across urban and rural areas, by income, education, race/ethnicity, and disability status (7). Public and private sectors can collaborate to close this digital divide and ensure that all children and families have equitable opportunities for success.

Policy and practice options that could improve housing affordability and resources, reduce inequities, and promote the well being of children and families include:
  • Advancing the Statewide Housing Plan, which aims to ensure that every Californian has a safe, stable, and affordable home (3)
  • Incentivizing and streamlining the development of new housing for low-income populations; as part of this, supporting equitable land use decisions and other regulation changes that lower costs for new housing construction, especially near transportation, jobs, schools, and other services (2, 3, 5, 9)
  • Preserving and rehabilitating existing affordable rental properties, while strengthening protections for low-income renters against discrimination, displacement, and unjust evictions or rent increases (2, 3, 6, 10)
  • Increasing federal funding for affordable housing solutions—such as making Housing Choice Vouchers available universally to low-income households—along with capital investments in affordable rentals (2, 3, 9, 11)
  • Establishing a state funding source sufficient to address the housing needs of California's vulnerable populations, and providing local governments funding flexibility in pursuing strategic housing solutions (2, 5)
  • Integrating equity across all housing efforts, and targeting housing system inequities and barriers that cause vulnerable groups to disproportionately experience housing problems (1, 2, 3, 7)
  • Strengthening cross-sector collaboration and community capacity to better identify families and youth at risk of homelessness and intervene early with coordinated programs that offer case management and support services, housing subsidies or cash assistance, and eviction prevention services (1, 2, 3, 11)
  • Expanding local, regional, state, and federal efforts to ensure high-speed internet is accessible and affordable to all households; for example, raising awareness about, and evaluating the adequacy of, existing public programs and subsidies, while removing barriers to broadband expansion and maximizing public-private initiatives (7, 8)
  • Promoting equitable, linguistically appropriate, community-based services that increase access to broadband-connected devices and digital literacy education (7, 8)
For more information, see’s Research & Links section or visit the California Housing Partnership and National Low Income Housing Coalition. Also see Policy Implications on for Homelessness, Family Income and Poverty, and other topics related to Family Economics.

Sources for this narrative:

1.  Reece, J. (2021). More than shelter: Housing for urban maternal and infant health. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 18(7), 3331. Retrieved from:

2.  Housing California, & California Housing Partnership. (2021). Roadmap Home 2030: A roadmap to thriving communities for California. Retrieved from:

3.  California Department of Housing and Community Development. (2022). A home for every Californian: 2022 statewide housing plan. Retrieved from:

4.  National Low Income Housing Coalition. (2022). Out of reach: The high cost of housing. Retrieved from:

5.  Mazzella, D. M. (2023). California affordable housing needs report 2023. California Housing Partnership. Retrieved from:

6.  Goplerud, D. K., et al. (2021). The health impact of evictions. Pediatrics, 148(5), e2021052892. Retrieved from:

7.  PACEs Connection, & California Essentials for Childhood Initiative. (2022). Community strategies to address California's digital divide and its impact on children and families. Retrieved from:

8.  Hayes, J., et al. (2023). Achieving universal broadband in California. Public Policy Institute of California. Retrieved from:

9.   Bailey, P. (2022). Addressing the affordable housing crisis requires expanding rental assistance and adding housing units. Center on Budget and Policy Priorities. Retrieved from:

10.  Domestic Policy Council, & National Economic Council. (2023). The White House blueprint for a renters bill of rights. Retrieved from:

11.  Levin, M., et al. (2022). California's homelessness crisis – and possible solutions – explained. CalMatters. Retrieved from:
Websites with Related Information
Key Reports and Research
County/Regional Reports
More Data Sources For Housing Affordability and Resources