Why it’s so hard to fix housing overcrowding in Los Angeles
In the past, politicians like to blame the housing crisis for the rising cost of living. But a review of the evidence shows that’s an oversimplification, and another one of those “big lies” that are propagated to mask the true causes of the problem.
That’s not to say it isn’t true. The evidence points the other way. A few examples of the disconnect:
In 2000, the Census Bureau conducted a study that looked at all 50 states and the District of Columbia on the question of “the number of housing units per 1000 inhabitants” — the “housing density index,” or HDI. The HDI is a relative measure of how densely people live. The Census Bureau looked at both the HDI and the total number of housing units in all 50 states, which it calculated using population data.
While both HDI and housing units were rising, the HDI was lower in California than in the U.S. as a whole. It wasn’t the same as it was for other states because the population increases in California have been so rapid. If you look at California’s population growth from 2000 to 2016, it’s about 30 percent bigger than it was in 2000 and then another 15 fold since then.
The HDI was lower than in other states because there was a high level of immigration in California. The census data shows that out of every person who moved out of one of California’s 11.2 million housing units, about 60 percent came from another state. In addition, the Census Bureau’s population data has a lot of error. For example, at the time the HDI was put out, the count of California’s housing units was lower than it is today because its population was so much smaller than it is today.
That means that when the Census Bureau started looking at housing units in California, it was counting more residents than it would have if it had started with a more reasonable population count.
The Census Bureau started its HDI in 1999. The