Households with a High Housing Cost Burden, by Legislative District

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Learn More About Housing Affordability

Measures of Housing Affordability on provides three measures related to housing affordability:
Estimates of households with a high housing cost burden and children living in crowded households are available for:
  • Cities, school districts, and/or counties with 65,000+ residents, as single-year estimates
  • Cities, school districts, and counties with 10,000+ residents, as 5-year estimates
  • Legislative districts, as 5-year estimates
Housing Affordability
Family Income and Poverty
Food Security
Childhood Adversity and Resilience
Why This Topic Is Important
California housing is among the most costly in the nation, so finding affordable housing is a significant challenge for many middle- and low-income families (1). Housing typically is considered affordable if it comprises less than 30% of a family's income (2). According to 2017 estimates, only 39% of low-income children in the U.S. and 27% of low-income children in California lived in affordable housing (3). Families that spend more than half of their income on housing tend to spend much less than other families on essential items, such as food and health care (1, 2).

Stable, affordable, quality housing is linked to positive health outcomes for children (4). In some cases, a lack of affordable housing can result in families living in crowded households. Residential overcrowding may be linked to the prevalence of certain infectious diseases, poor educational attainment, and psychological distress, among other potential adverse effects (1, 4). 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 disruptions in classroom instruction (5).
For more information on housing affordability, please see’s Research & Links section.

Sources for this narrative:

1.  Legislative Analyst's Office. (2015). California's high housing costs: Causes and consequences. Retrieved from:

2.  U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Office of Policy Development and Research. (2014). Housing's and neighborhoods' role in shaping children's future. Evidence Matters: Transforming Knowledge into Housing and Community Development Policy. Retrieved from:

3.  KIDS COUNT Data Center. (2019). Children in low-income households with a high housing cost burden. Annie E. Casey Foundation. Retrieved from:

4.  Maqbool, N., et al. (2015). The impacts of affordable housing on health: A research summary. Center for Housing Policy. Retrieved from:

5.  Brennan, M., et al. (2014). The impacts of affordable housing on education: A research summary. Center for Housing Policy. Retrieved from:
How Children Are Faring
In 2017, 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 ranged from 32% to 38% over this period.

According to 2016 estimates from the same survey, 28% of California children lived in crowded households (i.e., in homes with more than one person per room), twice the estimate for children nationwide. Similar to other housing and economic measures, estimates vary at the local level; for example, among California counties with data in 2012-2016, the percentage of children who experienced household overcrowding ranged from 8% (Plumas) to 40% (Monterey).

Across metropolitan areas statewide, fair market rent for a standard-quality, two-bedroom housing unit ranged from $700 per month in Modoc County to $3,170 per month in Marin, San Francisco, and San Mateo counties in fiscal year 2019.
Policy Implications
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 (1, 2). Policies to improve affordable housing can help mitigate child poverty, promote health, and increase family stability (3).

Policy options that could improve housing affordability and promote the well being of children include:
  • Preserving and increasing the availability of affordable housing, especially near good schools and public transit; for example, expanding housing trust funds, housing bonds, and California's low-income housing tax credit programs, as well as supporting inclusionary zoning requirements and other incentives to build affordable housing (3, 4, 5)
  • Reevaluating and improving state and local building regulations that contribute to prohibitive housing costs, such as outdated zoning, height restrictions, and parking limitations (4)
  • Expanding and refining supportive local, state, and federal policies that make housing more affordable to low- and moderate-income families, such as increasing rental assistance and reducing administrative barriers to federal assistance (3, 6)
  • Promoting family and residential stability by increasing investments in programs—like the state's Multifamily Housing Program—that help provide permanent housing for those most at risk of becoming homeless, while encouraging increased cross-sector collaboration among public housing agencies, multifamily housing owners, and social and homeless service providers to support families experiencing or at risk of homelessness (5, 6)
For more information about affordable housing, visit's Research & Links section, or the National Housing Conference and Corporation for Supportive Housing. Also see Policy Implications under the Family Income and Poverty and Homelessness topics on

Sources for this narrative:

1.  California Department of Housing and Community Development. (2014). The state of housing in California: Affordability worsens, supply problems remain. Retrieved from:

2.  Legislative Analyst's Office. (2015). California's high housing costs: Causes and consequences. Retrieved from:

3.  Lubell, J. (2013). Reviewing state housing policy with a child-centered lens: Opportunities for engagement and intervention. Center for Housing Policy. Retrieved from:

4.  Johnson, H., & Cuellar Mejia, M. (2019). California's future: Housing. Public Policy Institute of California. Retrieved from:

5.  California Housing Partnership Corporation. (2015). Update on California's affordable housing crisis: The critical role of housing access and affordability in reducing poverty. Retrieved from:

6.  U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness. (2019). Affordable housing. Retrieved from:
Websites with Related Information
Key Reports and Research
County/Regional Reports
More Data Sources For Housing Affordability