Housing wanted: The desperate search for an affordable apartment

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Southern California is often thought of as the land of the single family home: a home that’s owned, not rented, by its residents. This could be a modest tract house in the San Fernando Valley or a palatial designer residence perched on the sand in Newport Beach. But the image of Southern California as a kind of homeowners’ Shangri-La is something of a myth.

Just over half of the region’s population is composed of renters. And market forces and development trends are making things tougher for those who rent, or want to rent, in Southern California. Rents are at an all time high and keep going up, but renters’ salaries aren’t keeping up with the increases.

Craigslist has an overwhelming number of ads like these, featuring people desperate for affordable housing.
Craigslist has an dozens of ads like these, featuring people desperate for affordable housing. (The original image is no longer available, please contact KCRW if you need access to the original image.)

There also a supply and demand problem, with too many people looking for too few available rental units. And even places that used to be an easy place to find affordable rentals, like the Inland Empire and some desert communities, aren’t anymore.

Below we profile two people we met through the “housing wanted” section of Craigslist, the online classifieds site. Both are in the midst of looking for an affordable place to rent in Southern California and are having a difficult time.