OCTOBER 28, 2019 | Neighborhood Data for Social Change
With over 10 million residents, Los Angeles County is the most populous county in the United States. Known internationally as a hub for the media and entertainment industries, the county is home to 56 billionaires with a combined net worth of over $200 billion. But for most Angelenos, the reality of life in the county is much different. Los Angeles County has the seventh highest income gap among the nation’s 150 largest metro areas, with wages steadily increasing for the highest-paid workers and steadily decreasing for the lowest-paid workers over the past 40 years. Seventeen percent of Angelenos are living below the federal poverty line, compared to 15% across the state and about 14.5% nationwide.
In addition, rising housing costs are increasingly impacting families across the county. More than 30% of renter households are spending at least half of their monthly income on rent and utilities, leaving little discretionary income for other bills and expenses. To purchase a $538,640 median-priced home in Los Angeles County, a family would need to earn more than $111,000 per year, which is more than what 70% of county residents earn. This helps to explain why the rate of homeownership in Los Angeles County is only about 46%, compared to 55% across California and 64% nationwide.
In 2016, in an effort to help close the income gap and support economically vulnerable residents, the Los Angeles County Department of Consumer and Business Affairs created the Center for Financial Empowerment (CFE). This story will explore some of the issues that the CFE focuses on and highlight the resources they provide low- to moderate-income Angelenos to help build economic stability.
From connecting economically vulnerable residents with alternatives to predatory lenders to educational programs on financial literacy and consumer protections, our Center for Financial Empowerment is battling wealth inequality one Angeleno at a time.