Households with a High Housing Cost Burden, by Legislative District

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Learn More About Housing Affordability and Resources

Measures of Housing Affordability and Resources on Kidsdata.org
Kidsdata.org 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 10,000+ residents, 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
Homelessness
Childhood Adversity and Resilience
Unemployment
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). 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 (2, 3).

California housing is among the most costly in the nation, so finding affordable housing is a significant challenge for many of the state's middle- and low-income families (4). Housing typically is considered affordable if it comprises less than 30% of a family's income (5). According to 2018 estimates, only 39% of low-income children in the U.S. and 26% of low-income children in California lived in affordable housing (5). Families that spend more than 30% of their income on housing may struggle to afford other essential items, such as food and health care (5). They also may not be able to afford important household resources, such as broadband-connected devices, which are increasingly critical for education, employment, access to health and mental health care, social connections, and other family needs (6, 7).

In some cases, a lack of affordable housing can result in families living in crowded households (8). Residential crowding is associated with poor health outcomes, including infectious disease transmission, poor educational attainment, and mental health problems (8). Even when families are not in crowded homes, unaffordable or unstable housing can diminish a child's opportunities for educational success due to increased chances of moving, changing schools, and disrupting instruction (2).
For more information, please see kidsdata.org’s Research & Links section.

Sources for this narrative:

1.  Millet, S. (2020). Housing plays key role in people's health and well-being. Pew Charitable Trusts. Retrieved from: https://www.pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis/articles/2020/03/18/housing-plays-key-role-in-peoples-health-and-well-being

2.  Brennan, M., & Galvez, M. (2017). Housing as a platform: Strengthening the foundation for well-being. Urban Institute. Retrieved from: https://www.urban.org/research/publication/housing-platform

3.  California Department of Housing and Community Development. (2020). Final 2020 analysis of impediments to fair housing choice. Retrieved from: https://www.hcd.ca.gov/policy-research/plans-reports/index.shtml#aifh

4.  Johnson, H., et al. (2020). California's future: Housing. Public Policy Institute of California. Retrieved from: https://www.ppic.org/publication/californias-future-housing

5.  KIDS COUNT Data Center. (2020). Children in low-income households with a high housing cost burden. Annie E. Casey Foundation. Retrieved from: https://datacenter.kidscount.org/data/tables/71?loc=6&loct=2#detailed/2/6/true/37/any/377

6.  Goss, J., et al. (2019). California's digital divide. Public Policy Institute of California. Retrieved from: https://www.ppic.org/publication/californias-digital-divide

7.  Wheeler, T. (2020). Five steps to get the internet to all Americans. Brookings Institution. Retrieved from: https://www.brookings.edu/research/5-steps-to-get-the-internet-to-all-americans

8.  Howden-Chapman, P., et al. (2018). Household crowding. In World Health Organization, WHO Housing and Health Guidelines. Retrieved from: https://www.who.int/publications/i/item/who-housing-and-health-guidelines
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 2018, 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 48% in 2007 but remains higher than national estimates which were 38% or lower over this period. Among counties with data in 2014-2018, estimates ranged from 28% (Lassen) to 48% (Los Angeles) of households experiencing a high housing cost burden.

The share of California children living in crowded households (i.e., in homes with more than one person per room) was 28% in 2018, 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 2014-2018, the proportion of children experiencing household overcrowding ranged from fewer than 1 in 50 to more than 2 in 3.

According to 2018 estimates, 93% of California children lived in households with a device connected to high-speed internet service, similar to 91% nationally. Children's internet access at home varies by region and demographic characteristics, with children in higher-income households, those living with two parents, and Asian American and white children more likely to have broadband-connected devices in the home than children in other groups. In 2018, 81% of California children living in limited English-speaking households had a broadband-connected device at home, compared with 94% in English proficient households.
Policy Implications
Affordable, stable, safe housing and adequate household resources are key factors that influence children's health and well being (1, 2). Access to affordable housing is a serious challenge for many families in California, with the state's housing costs among the highest in the nation (3). Certain vulnerable groups are disproportionately affected by the state's extremely limited supply of affordable housing, particularly lower-income families, those in rural areas, people of color, and those with disabilities (2, 4). Policies to improve affordable housing can help mitigate family poverty, promote equity, reduce household overcrowding, improve health, and increase family stability (1, 2).

California policymakers recently 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, continued efforts, investments, and coordination across sectors and levels of government will be needed to address the state's housing problems.

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 (5, 6). Policymakers can work to reduce this digital divide and ensure that all children and families have equitable opportunities for success.

Policy options that could improve housing affordability and resources, and promote the well being of children and families include:
  • Maintaining and expanding policies that incentivize the development of new housing for low-income populations; as part of this, supporting changes to zoning and other regulations to help reduce costs for new housing construction (3)
  • Establishing adequate, permanent state funding to support affordable housing and infrastructure-related investments, and to preserve and rehabilitate existing affordable rental properties (7, 8)
  • Continuing to improve the efficiency of state and federal housing programs while removing barriers to participation (7, 8, 9)
  • Increasing federal funding for affordable housing solutions such as the Housing Choice Voucher Program, and capital investments in affordable rentals and public housing (10)
  • Continuing to pursue targeted strategies to address housing system inequities and barriers that cause vulnerable groups (e.g., families of color, people with disabilities, and low-income families) to disproportionately experience housing problems (2, 4)
  • Strengthening cross-sector collaboration in order to better identify families and youth at risk of homelessness and intervene early with coordinated government and community housing programs that offer case management and supportive services, housing subsidies or cash assistance, and eviction prevention services (2, 11)
  • Supporting and expanding state and federal efforts to ensure that high-speed internet is accessible and affordable to all households; for example, maximizing public-private initiatives like the California Bridging the Digital Divide Fund, and promoting federal solutions such as congressional action to improve the Lifeline program (5, 6, 12)
For more information, visit kidsdata.org’s Research & Links section or the California Housing Partnership and Corporation for Supportive Housing. Also see Policy Implications for Homelessness, Family Income and Poverty, and related topics under the Family Economics category on kidsdata.org.

Sources for this narrative:

1.  Millet, S. (2020). Housing plays key role in people's health and well-being. Pew Charitable Trusts. Retrieved from: https://www.pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis/articles/2020/03/18/housing-plays-key-role-in-peoples-health-and-well-being

2.  Brennan, M., & Galvez, M. (2017). Housing as a platform: Strengthening the foundation for well-being. Urban Institute. Retrieved from: https://www.urban.org/research/publication/housing-platform

3.  Johnson, H., et al. (2020). California's future: Housing. Public Policy Institute of California. Retrieved from: https://www.ppic.org/publication/californias-future-housing

4.  California Department of Housing and Community Development. (2020). Final 2020 analysis of impediments to fair housing choice. Retrieved from: https://www.hcd.ca.gov/policy-research/plans-reports/index.shtml#aifh

5.  Goss, J., et al. (2019). California's digital divide. Public Policy Institute of California. Retrieved from: https://www.ppic.org/publication/californias-digital-divide

6.  Wheeler, T. (2020). Five steps to get the internet to all Americans. Brookings Institution. Retrieved from: https://www.brookings.edu/research/5-steps-to-get-the-internet-to-all-americans

7.  Mazzella, D., & Rosenfeld, L. (2020). California affordable housing needs report. California Housing Partnership. Retrieved from: https://chpc.net/resources/2020-statewide-housing-needs-report

8.  California Department of Housing and Community Development. (2020). Final 2020 analysis of impediments to fair housing choice. Retrieved from: https://www.hcd.ca.gov/policy-research/plans-reports/index.shtml#aifh

9.   U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness. (2019). Affordable housing. Retrieved from: https://www.usich.gov/solutions/housing/affordable-housing

10.  Aurand, A., et al. (2020). Out of reach 2020. National Low Income Housing Coalition. Retrieved from: https://reports.nlihc.org/sites/default/files/oor/OOR_2020.pdf

11.  Levin, M., & Botts, J. (2020). California's homelessness crisis – and possible solutions – explained. CalMatters. Retrieved from: https://calmatters.org/explainers/californias-homelessness-crisis-explained

12.  Johnson, S. (2020). Long road ahead to close California's digital divide in education before new school year begins. EdSource. Retrieved from: https://edsource.org/2020/long-road-ahead-to-close-californias-digital-divide-in-education-before-new-school-year-begins/634688
Websites with Related Information
Key Reports and Research
County/Regional Reports
More Data Sources For Housing Affordability and Resources