Latinos comprise the largest ethnic group in the largest state of the union. Today, nearly 40 percent of all California residents are of Latino origin – a number that will only grow over the coming decades. The future of California and the future of its Latino population are one in the same. But when we look at some of the economic and political trends among California’s 14 million Latino residents, there are troubling signs for our community, and for our state’s future.
In the U.S., homeownership is considered a fundamental element of middle-class life, and can help individuals and households achieve stability and security. It is also an important wealth generator, providing a buffer against income loss or unexpected expenses, and providing an inheritable asset that can greatly impact social mobility across generations. Home equity can also be utilized for entrepreneurship, helping to bolster the economic stability of entire communities.
Finally, homeownership does not only have economic value. It can also confer other, less tangible social and cultural benefits, granting middle-class status to homeowners and their families.
In sum, while homeownership overall is on the decline throughout the state,
it remains a critical pathway for members of lower-income households to join the ranks of the California middle class. However, structural barriers such as a discriminatory housing markets and redlining efforts have historically made it very difficult for Latinos, and other people of color, to purchase homes. Today, significant disparities in homeownership exist within the California population. Latinos are less likely than many other groups to live in homes they own. For many Latinos, this means that a middle-class existence is increasingly out of reach. Latinos remain overwhelmingly interested in buying homes, however, as housing costs rise relative to income, many are simply less and less able to do so. In this research brief, the second in a series by the California Latino Economic Institute examining the state of Latino economic well-being in California, we explore some of the challenges that California Latinos face in achieving homeownership.
• 42.3% of California Latino households own their homes, compared to 62.5% of non-Latino White households.
• Latino homeowners tend to be younger than homeowners from other racial and ethnic groups.
• More than half of Latino renters and one-third of Latino homeowners are paying more than 30% of their income on housing costs.
• The highest rates of homeownership for middle-income Latinos in the state are in the San Joaquin Valley and the North State region.