A 5% rent hike in LA would make 2,000 residents homeless — and it’s likely on the way

Zillow study predicts further rent increases

Homeless encampment in Hollywood (Getty Images)
Homeless encampment in Hollywood (Getty Images)

A mere 5 percent rent hike in Los Angeles County would make 2,000 Angelenos homeless, according to a new study by Zillow that highlights the region’s housing shortage.

The findings aren’t merely hypothetical. Rents will rise 4.5 percent in L.A. next year, Zillow forecasts.

Rent increases are closely tied to the growing number of homeless people in L.A., Seattle and New York City, the study found.

“If Greater Los Angeles isn’t able to add housing, the pressure is going to continue to build,” Skylar Olsen, Zillow’s senior economist, told the Los Angeles Times.

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A recent report by the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority said L.A.’s rental vacancy rate is 2.6 percent, lower than the rate in New York and San Francisco.

Olsen said higher rent can indirectly drive people into homelessness. Residents who spend most of their income on rent are unable to save. When unexpected expenses hit such as medical bills, it can cause some renters to lose their home. 

The Zillow study showed L.A. County’s homeless population at more than 61,000 in January, according to an analysis of Census data and homelessness counts. The number clocked in much higher than the 58,000 reported by local officials after its annual count the same month. [LAT] — Subrina Hudson