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Who has housing affordability problems? Disparities in housing cost burden by race, nativity, and legal status in Los Angeles


Housing costs are a substantial component of U.S. household expenditures. Those who allocate a large proportion of their income to housing often have to make difficult financial decisions with significant short-term and long-term implications for adults and children. This study employs cross-sectional data from the first wave of the Los Angeles Family and Neighborhood Survey (L.A.FANS) collected between 2000 and 2002 to examine the most common U.S. standard of housing affordability, the likelihood of spending thirty percent or more of income on shelter costs. Multivariate analyses of a low-income sample of U.S. born Latinos, Whites, African Americans, authorized Latino immigrants and unauthorized Latino immigrants focus on baseline and persistent differences in the likelihood of being cost burdened by race, nativity and legal status. Nearly half or more of each group of low-income respondents experience housing affordability problems. The results suggest that immigrants’ legal status is the primary source of disparities among those examined, with the multivariate analyses revealing large and persistent disparities for unauthorized Latino immigrants relative to most other groups. Moreover, the higher odds of housing cost burden observed for unauthorized immigrants compared with their authorized immigrant counterparts remains substantial, accounting for traditional indicators of immigrant assimilation. These results are consistent with emerging scholarship regarding the role of legal status in shaping immigrant outcomes in the United States.


McConnell, Eileen Díaz. 2013. "Who has Housing Affordability Problems? Disparities in Housing Cost Burden by Race, Nativity and Legal Status in Los Angeles.”  Race and Social Problems. 5 (3): 173-190. 

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