Rents Soar, Mothers Struggle

06 Jun Rents Soar, Mothers Struggle

By Laresha Franks

Maria Anguiano, a 49-year-old mother of a young adult and two teenage children, has rented in Vermont Vista for the past ten years, but her family is now forced to face the daunting task of finding a new home.

“I am [a] single mother, so I always hustled and worked odd jobs to pay my $1,100 monthly rent,” said Anguiano, who’s currently being evicted from her home.

Rising rents in Los Angeles threaten hundreds of thousands of families with homelessness and hunger, especially households headed by single mothers.

Since 2000 rents have increased 21% while incomes have decreased 8%, according to a 2015 study by the California Housing Partnership Corporation. The report found that nearly 1.2 million low-income renters spent more than half of their income on rent.

Anguiano is intent on finding an apartment that allows her son and daughter to store musical instruments
and painting supplies. “It would be a huge mistake to de-prioritize my children’s talents.”

Unfortunately, she’s only found similar apartments that can support her family’s needs ranging $1,500 to
$2,400. That is out of her price range.

“Families are on the precipice of homelessness, and [as a] city we do not pay close enough attention
to prevention,” said Adam Murray, Executive Director of Inner City Law Center, which provides free legal assistance and other services to individuals and families facing eviction.

Murray believes that in helping those most vulnerable to becoming homeless–families facing eviction,
transitional age youth in foster care, and formerly incarcerated individuals–we can prevent more families from falling into homelessness.

For Veronica Hines, 55, the benefits of subsidized housing have helped her youngest children go to college. When her two children were seven years old, the family was forced to move into a shelter. After years
of trying, Hines finally got approved for public housing assistance, which gave her and her children the opportunity to start their lives over.

Through all the trials, she made sure her youngest children kept their sights focused on going to college.

Her two youngest are currently enrolled at CSU Northridge and San Francisco State University.
But, Hines’ challenges are far from over, as her rental subsidy is determined by her income. Yet, her rent
increases slightly each year.

“I do not receive enough to pay [my full] rent … and if I get a decent paying job my rent would really go up
high. But why? I am already scuffling.”

The rising cost of rent in Los Angeles is part of a national trend that’s impacting women of color the
hardest. Low-income women of color across the nation are paying closer to 70-90% of their income on
rent, according to Harvard Sociologist Matthew Desmond, who released his book “Eviction” on the housing crisis in America.

Desmond calls for an expansion of affordable housing programs in a recent interview with Slate.

“We know from previous research that when families get a housing voucher after years on the waiting
list, they buy more food, they go to the grocery store, and their kids become stronger.”

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