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California women of color disproportionately impacted by housing costs

The new study from the Gender Equity Policy Institute shows that 59% of Black women spend at least 30% to 50% of their salary on rent.

SAN DIEGO — Lisa Miller works for Pivot Sacramento and helps women find employment. 

“We've had customers that were sleeping in their car, they're sleeping in their car with kids,” Miller said. 

She said she serves mostly Black and brown women, and the biggest barrier to employment is housing. 

“Rent just just took this giant leap," Miller said. "A one bedroom apartment is over $1,000. Rent is way too much.”

A new report shows that women are facing the greatest burden of the housing crisis, especially black women. Burdened means the woman is spending at least 30% to 50% of her salary on rent.

We know rent in California is high, but why do women allocate more of their salary to it than men? 

“I have some folks that applied for a position, man and woman, doing kind of the same job, and the man is getting more money than the woman," Miller said. "$1.50 more (an hour).”

President of Gender Equity Policy Institute Nancy Cohen said Miller hit the nail on the head. 

“Women tend to earn less than men, and they tend to hold less wealth," Cohen said. "So that means they have less to spend on housing.”

The list doesn’t stop there. 

“Women are more responsible for taking care of children and the elderly, they have less time to commute, they have less time to be in the paid workforce,” Cohen said. 

Third, she said sexual harassment plays a large role in the housing market. 

Here are some numbers from the report:

  • 59% of Black women are rent burdened
  • 52% of Latina women 
  • 73% of all single mothers are rent burdened

“Many of the ladies that come in Black and brown are single parents," Miller said. "They don't have that family support or that that dad that's paying child support, and so they're really struggling."

And having a job, sometimes makes it harder to get assistance. 

"The welfare to reform, welfare to work, doesn't really provide support if you're working" Miller said. "There's people I know, they're struggling, they can't get any public assistance, not Medicaid, enough food stamps, and they absolutely need it.”

Miller said it’s getting so bad, her employees are even paying for hotel rooms for some of the women that come in so they don’t have to sleep on the street with their children. 

It's behavior she has to tell them to stop doing because there are just too many people to do that for. 

What are the solutions? For one,  building more housing in cities. Cohen said women tend to rely more on public transportation. So the closer they can live to child care and work, the bigger role they can play in the workforce. 

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