Press Release: The Origins of California’s Housing Crisis​

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday, June 3, 2024
CONTACT: Anya Silverman-Stoloff |

New Report from Gender Equity Policy Institute Finds Racial and Gender Inequities in Rental Costs & Homeownership Have Worsened Over the Last 50 Years

Since 1970, Black Home Ownership Has Decreased by 9%; White Households Now Almost 2x as Likely Than Black Households to Own a Home

Share of Rent-Burdened California Households Has Risen 55%; Nearly 7 in 10 Women-Led Households Now Spend Unaffordable Share of Income on Rent

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – Today, the Gender Equity Policy Institute (GEPI) released a new report, The Origins of the California Housing Crisis: Fifty Years of Rising Housing Costs and the Unequal Impacts on Californians, that examines racial and gender inequities in housing costs and homeownership rates in the state over the last fifty years. The report found that:

  • The share of California renting households who are rent-burdened, spending an unaffordable share of income on housing, has increased 55% since 1970. Rent burden is defined as spending more than 30% of one’s income on rent.
  • Compared to 1970, nearly 4 times as many Californians currently live in renting households that are severely rent burdened – spending more than half their income on housing;
  • Black homeownership has decreased 9% since 1970. White householders are now 1.8 times as likely as Black householders to own their homes;
  • Since 1970, homeownership among women-led households has increased. But California women remain 22% less likely to be homeowners compared to California households overall.
  • Nearly 7 in 10 women-led households spend an unaffordable share of income on rent.
  • Compared to other race/ethnic groups, Black households experience the highest levels of rent burden (65%) and severe rent burden (39%).

“The ‘California Dream’ of affordable housing began vanishing in the 1970s, as the data dramatically shows, and has only continued since. California’s homelessness and affordable housing crises are a drag on the economy and negatively affect nearly every person, business, and institution in the Golden State,” explained Dr. Nancy L. Cohen, President and founder of the Gender Equity Policy Institute. “As California policymakers continue to tackle the complex challenge of the housing affordability crisis, they should aim to expand the California Dream, not simply to restore it, recognizing that the Twentieth Century ideal was always largely out of reach for Black families and households headed by women.”

The report builds on previous research from the Gender Equity Policy Institute from March 2024 which examined how women in California were disproportionately impacted by the housing crisis. GEPI’s March 2024 data brief found:

  • 53% of California women living in rentals spend an unaffordable share of income on housing, compared to 48% of men. Nearly 3 in 10 women living in rentals spend over half their income on rent;
  • 77% of single mother renters pay unaffordable rents. 36% of Black women living in rentals spend over half their income on rent. 75% of older women renters who live alone pay unaffordable rents;
  • Latina women in California are nearly 8 times as likely as white women to live in severely overcrowded homes.

GEPI is a nonprofit organization dedicated to accelerating gender equality in the United States through data‑based applied research, strategic advocacy, and policy development. Our mission is to rebalance systems, guarantee equal benefits and opportunities, and secure a just and sustainable future for all people.