Survey: Most Young Adult Renters Consider Leaving Los Angeles

A majority of Los Angeles voters are considering abandoning the city because housing is too expensive, according to a new poll.

The finding follows years of dissatisfaction with crushing housing costs and threatens the city’s future as young adults and renters are most likely to consider leaving.

Nearly three-quarters of renters and those under 35 have considered leaving Los Angeles, compared to 37% of owners and 26% of people 65 or older, according to the survey conducted on behalf of the Los Angeles Business Council Institute. partnership with the Los Angeles Times.

Overall, the poll found that 60% of Angelenos are considering leaving the city due to the rising cost of housing, and 35% say they have “seriously considered” doing so.

The results reflect what voters see as a “fundamental injustice” in housing, said Aileen Cardona-Arroyo, senior vice president of Hart Research, the Washington, D.C. polling firm that administered the survey. Angelenos, she said, think they’re working hard but still can’t keep pace with rising costs.

“People say, ‘I’m doing the right thing.’ I have a job. I’m doing my part. So why am I having trouble paying my housing bills?’ ” said Cardona-Arroyo. “It’s so easy to understand and identify what makes this situation unsustainable for people. »

The poll, known as the 2024 LABC Institute Housing Affordability Survey in partnership with the Los Angeles Times, surveyed 600 registered voters in the city of Los Angeles between April 3 and 7.

The findings on housing stand out when compared to the positive sentiments expressed by respondents on other issues.

A slim majority of Angelenos say they are very or somewhat satisfied with the quality of life in the city, a figure that rises to 7 in 10 when voters are asked about their own neighborhood. A similar number said they were satisfied with the safety and security in their community, and a large majority were satisfied with the accessibility of grocery stores, parks and transportation. Nearly three-quarters of renters said they aspire to become homeowners in Los Angeles.

“I feel like I’m living in paradise,” said Ron Allen, a 46-year-old homeowner in Playa Vista who was participating in a focus group for the survey. “But my bank account is screaming at me.”

Allen and other focus group participants cited housing issues as dominating their concerns, which was largely reflected in the survey. Seven in ten people surveyed said they personally had difficulty affording housing in the city, including 84% of renters and 85% of those under 35.

“You can understand food. You can understand medical care. If you’re born and raised here, you get used to driving,” said Judge Allen, a 28-year-old renter from the San Fernando Valley. “But the idea of ​​housing, for the most basic refuge, is where probably 95% of my stress goes.”

More than 40% of those surveyed said they had to find additional sources of income to afford housing over the past five years. About a fifth said they added new roommates or tenants to cover costs or fell behind on their rent or mortgage payments. Another 6% reported living in cars or trucks or being homeless during this time.

This survey echoes other surveys conducted in recent years on the challenges of high housing costs, particularly for renters. A recent survey from UCLA’s Luskin School of Public Affairs found that nearly 4 in 10 renters in LA County have been afraid of losing their home and becoming homeless in recent years.

The LABC-Times investigation also found a remarkable persistence of Angelenos’ concerns about homelessness and housing affordability.

Of those surveyed, 93% and 87%, respectively, thought homelessness and housing affordability were serious problems in Los Angeles. This compares with 97% for the homeless and 86% for housing affordability. in a similar 2019 LABC-Times investigation.

Voter attitudes reflect how entrenched housing problems have become in Los Angeles, with data showing the problem has gotten worse since 2019.

Average rents for new listings in the city have increased by nearly $400 a month to around $2,800, according to Zillow data, although the rate of increase has been lower than inflation. Home values ​​soared by more than a third to $974,000, according to company data. The number of homeless people in the city has increased every night by 30%, to 46,260 people, according to official surveys.

More than half of the county’s renters spend more than 30 percent of their income on rent, an amount the federal government considers a cost burden, with 28 percent spending more than half of their income, according to a recent analysis from UCLA.

“You can only see a high number of people concerned about an issue for a certain amount of time before something happens and people get fed up,” Cardona-Arroyo said.

The results were particularly concerning for young adults who were most likely to say they were considering moving because of high housing costs, despite their interest in buying a home here, she said.

“People love Los Angeles,” Cardona-Arroyo said. “They really want to stay. I wouldn’t say we’re at a point where people have lost all hope of solving this problem. But things are boiling. We are at a pressure point on this.

Frustrations emerged during focus group sessions, in which young tenants lamented being excluded from the communities where they are most familiar.

“People who grew up here can’t afford to live here,” said Bryanna Coleman, 22, a renter who lives on the Westside. “I’m about to be a recent college graduate. Why can’t I afford to live in areas I know personally? »

Any exodus of young adults from Los Angeles would harm the city’s vibrancy and competitiveness relative to other parts of the country, especially if there was a “brain drain” of students who attended the city’s world-class universities. region, said Mary Leslie, president of the association. Los Angeles Business Council.

Elected officials should want young people to feel like they can invest in the city and build their lives there, she said. Without that spirit, she says, the city’s long-term health is at risk.

“This is a serious red flag,” Leslie said.

The survey also revealed concerns among landlords. Three in ten respondents say they face high costs, spending more than 30% of their income on housing.

As mortgage interest rates have risen, some focus group participants who were considering moving to larger homes or wealthier neighborhoods said they could no longer afford it.

“This wasn’t supposed to be our forever home, but I guess we’re dying here,” said Cathy Donabedian, a 43-year-old homeowner in the San Fernando Valley. “For everything else, our mortgage will increase from 30% of our income to 80%. You can’t afford to do that.

The poll surveyed registered voters in Los Angeles by phone and web text messages. The margin of error is plus or minus 4 percentage points for the city’s voters as a whole and higher for subgroups. On April 9, Hart Research hosted two focus group sessions, one consisting of renters and one of landlords, both from different neighborhoods across the city.