Latinos hurt most by affordable housing crunch

The Associated Press
Tuesday September 24, 2002


LOS ANGELES — The shortage of affordable housing is affecting Latinos more than any other group of Californians and could force many immigrants and their families out of the state, according to a Pepperdine University study. 

Foreign-born Latino homeowners on average spend 43 percent of their income on mortgage payments, compared with an average of 32 percent among U.S.-born Californians, according to the study scheduled for release Tuesday. 

The affordability gap risks leaving the segment of the population “discouraged, alienated and politically detached,” the study said. It could also create conflicts between a permanent class of renters and homeowners, according to the report, whose sponsors included the Olson Co., a builder of affordable housing for minorities. 

Hispanics account for about 12 million of California’s 35 million residents and buy more than one in five homes sold in the state. 

By the middle of the century they are expected to form the majority ethnic group in the state. But many Latino families may instead choose to leave for more affordable regions of the country if the shortage of affordable housing is not properly addressed, the report said. 

The study calls on companies to extend credit to working and middle class families and on the government to adjust the tax system so it depends less on retail sales — a policy that can favor the development of shopping malls over residences.