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Variable Definitions:
Homeownership Rate: The percentage of housing units occupied by the owner of the unit

Renter Rate: The percentage of housing units who are occupied by someone who is not the owner of the unit

American Community Survey (ACS), 5-year estimates, Table B25003 

Years Available:

2010, 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021

*Note: Each year of available data shown above is a 5-year estimate, or an average of data collected over a five year period. 5-year estimates are used to increase the reliability of the data at small geographies like neighborhoods and census tracts. The years shown on the NDSC map represent the final year of the five year average (e.g. “2010” represents 2006-2010 data, “2011” represents 2007-2011 data, and so on). For the most impactful comparison of data over time, the ACS recommends comparing non-overlapping years (e.g. 2010-14 with 2015-19).

Why are these variables important to measure?

Homeownership Rate

Owning a home has long been considered an important milestone, as it represents a step toward long-term financial stability. It offers benefits to the neighborhood, as well: homeowners move less frequently and tend to be engaged in their community and its institutions, such as schools and businesses. Because they are financially and personally invested in the neighborhood, homeowners often take interest in local improvement initiatives. 

Unfortunately, this milestone has become less attainable over time; the homeownership rate has been declining across the country, particularly for younger generations. The decline is mostly attributed to low supply of housing, leading to extremely high costs and competition (Shoag et al, 2023). Costs in California are especially high, leading to the state reporting homeownership rates lower than any other in the country (Schlepp, 2023). Racial inequality in homeownership is also a major concern. Decades of racist policies such as racially restrictive covenants and redlining have contributed to Black Americans having a consistently lower homeownership rate than the average. This precludes Black Americans from advantages that help build generational wealth, such as mortgage tax deductions, federal mortgage subsidies, and asset sales (Brown, 2018). 
Because owning a home is out of reach for many, it is important to measure rentership rates, defined as the percentage of housing units occupied by someone other than the unit’s owner. In addition to the inability to afford a mortgage or continually getting outbid on properties, low credit and citizenship status are conditions that act as barriers to homeownership in Los Angeles. Renting offers flexibility, which is especially valuable in an expensive area like Southern California. Renters’ mobility  means they can more easily move to pursue a job, be closer to family and childcare, and seek out more affordable units. While renting has many benefits, it can impact the broader cost of living; high demand for rental units can lead to spikes in rental prices, as well as reduce the supply of homes for purchase.

Written by Priya Ranganath


Brown, Dorothy A.(2018). Homeownership in Black and White: The Role of Tax Policy in Increasing Housing Inequity. University of Memphis Law Review, 49. 205-227. Link.
Aaronson, Daniel. “A Note on the Benefits of Homeownership: A Note on the Benefits of Homeownership.” Journal of Urban Economics, vol. 47, no. 3, 2000, pp. 356-69. Link.
Shoag, D., Romem, I., & Garcia, D. (2023). The first step is the hardest: California’s Sliding Homeownership Ladder. Terner Center. Link.
Schlepp, T. (2023, April 6). California has lowest rate of home ownership in America: Study. KTLA. Link

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