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Majority Of L.A.'s Poorest Households Paying More Than Half Their Income On Rent, Study Says

(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
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The very worst of what the Department of Housing and Urban Development calls "worst case housing needs" are found in Los Angeles, narrowly edging out New York City, according to a new reportreleased Wednesday by HUD.

The agency defines "worst case housing needs" as pertaining to renters with incomes below half the median in their area who do not receive government housing assistance and who either paid more than half their monthly incomes for rent, lived in severely substandard conditions, or both. According to the HUD report, 55% of these unsubsidized, low-income households spent more than half their income on rent or resorted to substandard housing in 2015, a marked increase from 2013.

In a Wednesday statement accompanying the report, HUD Secretary Ben Carson attributed the nationwide rise of "worst case housing needs" partly to the "aftershocks of our housing recession." Rents in Los Angeles increased alongside incomes between 2013 and 2015, the LA Times reports, an ongoing trend that also helps account for the area's 23% rise in homelessness this year.

HUD announced in its statement plans to "pursue housing finance reform" as a means of easing the financial burden on low-income renting households, an agenda that Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin identified in May as a "top priority" for the Trump administration. Carson toed the party line in his Wednesday statement, saying, "Today’s affordable rental housing crisis requires that we take a more business-like approach on how the public sector can reduce the regulatory barriers so the private markets can produce more housing for more families.”