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How do renters survive unaffordability? Household-level impacts of rent burden in Los Angeles

Soledad De Gregorio, Abt Global; Jovanna Rosen, Rutgers University – Camden; Sean Angst, University of Southern California; and Gary Painter, University of Cincinnati


October 23, 2023

What actions do individuals and families take when they are rent burdened? A collaborative research team from Rutgers University, University of Southern California, University of Cincinnati and Abt examined how housing affordability affects renters, and the tactics that people use to survive.

The team examined data from a door-to-door household survey in South and Central Los Angeles and found that for rent-burdened households—or those paying more than 30 percent of their income on rent—were more likely to reduce consumption of food, utilities, healthcare, education, and other spending for years. These households often took further actions by making functional changes, meaning working more hours at their jobs and/or changing their homes to take on additional residents to help with household costs, including rent.

This article adds to the literature by examining the specific consumption cutbacks cited by respondents, and their duration.