Race and Social Problems

, Volume 5, Issue 3, pp 173–190 | Cite as

Who has Housing Affordability Problems? Disparities in Housing Cost Burden by Race, Nativity, and Legal Status in Los Angeles

  • Eileen Diaz McConnell


Housing costs are a substantial component of US 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 collected between 2000 and 2002 to examine the most common US standard of housing affordability, the likelihood of spending 30 % or more of income on shelter costs. Multivariate analyses of a low-income sample of US-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.


Housing Housing affordability Race Immigration Legal status 



This research is supported by Grant R03 HD058915-01A1 from the National Institute of Child Health and Development. The author appreciates the research assistance of Tun Lin Moe and the suggestions of the editor and an anonymous reviewer on earlier versions of the manuscript. All errors of fact and interpretation are the sole responsibility of the author.


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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Transborder StudiesArizona State UniversityTempeUSA

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