According to 2005-2009 estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey, Californians are spending more than 30 percent of their income on housing costs. When it comes to affordability, the US Census Bureau uses the following definition: “The conventional public policy indicator of housing affordability in the United States is the percent of income spent on housing. Housing expenditures that exceed 30 percent of household income have historically been viewed as an indicator of a housing affordability problem. The conventional 30 percent of household income that a household can devote to housing costs before the household is said to be ‘burdened’ evolved from the United States National Housing Act of 1937.” So based on these standards, more than half of Californians are considered to be in a position where they cannot afford their housing costs. In comparison to other states, Californians are unsurprisingly spending more on such costs, as 51.8 percent of renters spend more than 30 percent of their income on rent and utilities and more than 51.4 percent spend more than 30 percent on their mortgages. CA Watch reports:
“Housing costs in California are among the highest in the country. California homeowners spend an average $2,292 per month, compared to $1,486 nationally. Renters in the state pay an average $1,116 toward housing, compared to $817 nationally. With high housing costs come high home values. Median values of owner-occupied housing units were greater than $500,000 in 32 U.S. counties – including 17 in California. Home values in the state ranged from $160,100 in Modoc County to $880,000 in Marin County.”
You can read more about the Census Bureau’s results here. And this chart here shows the percentage of renters in each county of California that spend more than 30 percent of their income on housing, and a chart on percentages in counties for mortgage costs can be found here.