Little Hoover Commission Issues Brief on COVID-19 Impacts on Housing

The Little Hoover Commission, California’s independent state oversight agency, this week issued an issue brief in response to questions posed by a series of California State Senators relative to the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on housing in California. In developing its brief, the Commission determined that thousands of renters, landlords, and homeowners across California, particularly those of color, are struggling to make housing payments amid the pandemic.

The Commission further finds:

  • Essential workers make up one-third to one-half of the state’s workforce, and as many as 1.4 million essential workers live in overcrowded housing.
  • Roughly one-in-10 individuals in owner-occupied households have fallen behind on their mortgage, while roughly one-in-six renters have fallen behind on their rent; landlords have suffered as renters have been unable to pay.
  • Nearly five percent of mortgages were in forbearance in early February, placing California eighth among the 15 states with the most loans in forbearance.
  • Foreclosures due to the pandemic could exacerbate the racial wealth gap, result in a los of affordable rental housing, and negatively impact the health and well-being of homeowners and small landlords who experience it.

The Commission additionally outlines demographic insights into the pandemic’s impacts on California’s residents, finding that Black and Latino homeowners were over two times as likely as Whites to report being behind on their housing payments, and similar gaps existed for renters. Low-income homeowners and renters were nearly four and six times as likely, respectively, to be behind on their housing payments as high-income homeowners and renters. Further, renters with less than a high school education were more than three times as likely as renters with a bachelor’s degree or higher to be behind on their housing payments.

The Little Hoover Commission does not identify policy recommendations as part of its report. The full report is available here.