top of page

House poor in Los Angeles: Examining patterns of housing-induced poverty by race, nativity, and legal status


Housing affordability in the United States is generally operationalized using the ratio approach, with those allocating more than thirty percent of income to shelter costs considered to have housing affordability challenges. Alternative standards have been developed that focus on residual income, whether income remaining after housing expenditures is sufficient to meet non-housing needs. This study employs Los Angeles Family and Neighborhood Survey data to consider racial/ethnic, nativity and legal status differences in one residual income standard. Logistic regression analyses of housing-induced poverty focus on whether there are differences among five distinct groups: US born Latinos, Non-Hispanic Whites, and African Americans, authorized Latino immigrants, and unauthorized Latino immigrants. Results suggest that: (1) Latino natives are significantly more likely to be in housing-induced poverty than African Americans and Latino immigrants, and (2) unauthorized Latino immigrants are not more likely to experience the outcome than other groups. The present work extends previous research. First, the results provide additional evidence of the value of operationalizing housing affordability using a residual income standard. Alternatives to the ratio approach deserve more empirical attention from a wider range of scholars and policymakers interested in housing affordability. Second, housing scholarship to date generally differentiates among Latinos by ethnicity, nativity, and citizenship. The present study contributes to emerging research investigating heterogeneity among Latinos by nativity and legal status.


McConnell, Eileen Díaz. 2012. “House Poor in Los Angeles: Examining Patterns of Housing-Induced Poverty by Race, Nativity, and Legal Status.” Housing Policy Debate. 22(4):605-631. {Corrigendum 25(1): 195-202}

bottom of page