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Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, unaffordable housing costs represented one of California’s most pressing challenges – and the job losses triggered by stay-home orders necessary to address the public health emergency threaten to exacerbate this long-standing crisis. Housing affordability is a problem throughout the state when housing costs are compared to incomes, and the Californians who are most affected by the affordability crisis are renters, households with the lowest incomes, people of color, and immigrants. Many of these same Californians are also especially hard hit by the economic effects of the COVID-19 public health crisis. Policy solutions that particularly address the needs of these households represent a promising approach to tackling the state’s housing crisis strategically, with a focus on those most deeply affected. The current pandemic highlights the urgency for strategies to eliminate unjust disparities in who is burdened by unaffordable housing, including racial inequities in housing affordability.

Among the key findings based on the most recent data available from 2018:

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