LOS ANGELES — July 23, 2011 — Almost a third of California households have put off buying a new home, reveals the latest the USC Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences/Los Angeles Times Poll.
Thirty-one percent of California households have put off looking for or buying a home, including 36 percent of Latino households.
Additionally, more than 1 in 3 California households — including nearly half of non-White households — are making the tough choice to cut back on essential purchases in order to make mortgage payments.
The USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times Poll, conducted July 6-17, 2011, is the largest poll of registered voters in California and includes a significant additional oversample of Latino voters questioned in both English and Spanish by bilingual interviewers.
Non-white voters have been hit especially hard by the long wake of the housing meltdown. Among Latino households in California, 49 percent have cut back on non-luxury purchases such as groceries or gas in order to pay the mortgage. And 24 percent of Latino households have been forced to relocate, compared to 17 percent of households overall.
Forty-eight percent of Black households and 49 percent of Asian American households have also cut back on non-luxury purchases, as well as 33 percent of White households.
Regionally, the Central Valley has been the hardest hit in California, according to the USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times Poll, with 45 percent of households cutting back on groceries, gas or other essential purchases to help make mortgage payments, and 48 percent of voters in the region said they or someone in their family had been forced to look for a job since the housing meltdown.
Overall, the poll results reflect significant unemployment or underemployment across California: since the housing collapse, 38 percent of California households have had a family member look for a new job or seek an additional job. Sixty-two percent of Californians know someone well — such as a friend or neighbor — who has lost a job in the last year.
In the last year, 42 percent of Californian households have experienced reduced wages or lost work hours, including a majority — 52 percent — of Latino households.
Nearly 1 in 4 Latino families in California have fallen behind on mortgage payments or been foreclosed on in the last year. Among all Californians, 19 percent have fallen behind or been foreclosed on in the last year, according to the USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times Poll.
Half of Californians said they have put off on investing in home improvements, and 31 percent have put off looking for or buying a new home.
“The housing crisis isn't just holding back California's economic recovery. It's devastating the daily lives of people across the state," said Dan Schnur, director of the USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times Poll and director of the Unruh Institute of Politics at USC. "These results put a human face on the damage this recession is causing."
Latino voters who had been forced to cut back on non-luxury purchases were especially unhappy with spending cuts in the recently passed California budget. Sixty-two percent of Latino voters who had been forced to slash personal non-luxury expenses said the budget cuts to state employee salaries and to government services such as welfare programs, health care, and public safety were unacceptable, compared to 48 percent of White voters in similar economic circumstances.
Among Latinos who had experienced job loss either personally or to a family member, 81 percent said cutting K-12 education would be unacceptable. Among White voters who experienced job loss, 68 percent said cutting K-12 education would be unacceptable.
The USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times Poll was conducted July 6-17, 2011, and surveyed 1,507 registered voters in California. The margin of error for the overall sample is +/- 2.52 percentage points.
About the USC Dana and David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences/Los Angeles Times Poll: The USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times Poll is a series of statewide public opinion polls in California, designed to survey voter attitudes on a wide range of political, policy, social and cultural issues.
Conducted at regular intervals throughout the year, the USC Dornsife/Los Angeles Times Poll is one of the largest polls of registered voters in the state and has been widely cited, helping to inform the public and to encourage discourse on key political and policy issues.
About USC Dana and David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences: USC Dana and David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences is the heart of the university. The largest, oldest and most diverse of USC's 19 schools, USC Dornsife is composed of more than 30 academic departments and dozens of research centers and institutes. USC Dornsife is home to approximately 10,000 undergraduate and graduate students and more than 750 faculty members with expertise across the humanities, social sciences and sciences.
About the Los Angeles Times: The Los Angeles Times is the largest metropolitan daily newspaper in the country, with a daily readership of 2 million and 3 million on Sunday, and a combined print and interactive local weekly audience of 4.5 million. The fast-growing latimes.com draws over 10 million unique visitors monthly.