How are local renters fighting their lofty housing costs? By packing rentals with above-average numbers of people.

Census data for 2017 shows the Inland Empire has the nations most-crowded rental units. And the rest of Southern California isnt far behind.

On the Nov. 6 ballot, Californians can vote for Proposition 10, which expands a citys ability to control what landlords charge. There is no mandate that any municipality use such regulatory powers.

But renters cant wait for the political process or developers to play catch-up. Pricey rents leave cash-strapped households with few good options to lower the cost of shelter. So doubling-up in various forms — from roommates to cohabitation to multi-generational arrangements — becomes a budget-saving necessity.

My trusty spreadsheet shows San Bernardino County with 3.34 people per rental — the highest density nationally among 141 heavily populated counties tracked — in its 255,499 units.

San Bernardino Countys median monthly rent by census math was $1,227, 54th highest nationally. But that expense — even with packed apartments — left 56.6 percent of its renting households paying 30 percent or more of their income toward housing costs. Thats the 16th highest financial burden tied to rent.

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Riverside County, at 3.32 people per rental, was No. 2 nationally for crowded living in its 242,213 units. Its median rent was $1,313 monthly, No. 41 nationally. Still, 60.6 percent of Riverside County renters pay 30 percent or more of their income to housing costs, fourth-highest in the U.S.

A typical Orange County rental had 3.09 people, No. 12 nationally, among 441,895 units. Median rents were fifth-costliest in the U.S. — $1,786 monthly– leaving 57.7 percent of renters paying 30 percent-plus of their income to landlords, 10th worst nationally.

And in Los Angeles County, there were 2.86 people per rental in its 1.8 million unit, ranking 21st. L.A. rents of $1,402 a month — No. 29 nationally — translated to 57.8 percent of renters paying 30 percent-plus for housing, the eighth-worst burden among the big counties studied.

Southern California is not alone with rent-payment challenges. Yes, in these 141 large U.S. counties studied the median rental unit had just 2.46 people and cost only $1,143 monthly. Still, rent is a financial burden everywhere: half of renters in these major U.S. housing markets — yes, 49.9 percent — pay 30 percent-plus to the landlord.

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