When the family of two young boys moved into a two-bedroom, three-bathroom house in the small community of Westlake, California, they thought they had everything they wanted.
“I thought we were going to be able to afford this house,” says the eldest son, Jacob.
The house has four bedrooms and a full kitchen, but Jacob says it has become more than a home for him and his brother.
The kids, who have been in and out of foster care for several years, had trouble getting a job, but the boys are getting good grades, he says.
The couple is not alone.
Since 2008, at least 7,000 people have moved into federally funded homes for low-income families, according to the Bureau of the Census.
They are mostly single adults, people with kids and people with disabilities.
They can have the same children and adopt the same dogs, but are still at risk for homelessness, according a 2016 report by the Urban Institute.
The new houses often are not equipped with enough bathrooms or heat, so families often stay inside.
They often are also very expensive, so many people are opting for smaller homes, which have less bathrooms and air conditioning, says David Stokes, director of the University of California, Los Angeles Center for Housing Studies.
The problem is getting worse, says Stokes.
At the end of 2016, the average house cost in California was $1.05 million, according the California Housing Finance Agency.
“The house is not good enough,” says Stakes.
In California, there are more than 10,000 federally funded low- and moderate-income housing units, according and the bureau’s 2016 report.
There are about a million households living in the country’s most expensive ZIP codes.
The Census Bureau estimates that the population of low- to moderate- and high-income households is about 6.3 million, a decrease of about 1 million people since 2000.
The number of low income households in California increased by about 50 percent from 2000 to 2010, and the number of households in moderate- to high-status areas increased by more than 50 percent, the bureau reports.
In 2010, about 14 percent of households had incomes of less than $27,000 a year, according Census data.
About 6 percent of people had incomes above $27.00 a year.
Most of those households had children and had been living in those homes for more than five years.
The median age in California is 46.
In the last year, about 5.5 million people had a high school diploma or less, the Bureau reports.
Nearly 6 million were working or had jobs.
About 2.5 percent were unemployed.
About 1.5% were part-time workers.
The Bureau reports the median income for low income families is $18,000.
For middle-income and higher-income people, the median is $42,000 and the median for high-end families is about $75,000, the Census reports.
Housing advocates say the number is not sustainable and are calling for changes.
They point to a recent survey from the state Department of Housing and Community Development showing that nearly half of the population has been homeless at some point.
And they point to the recent census showing that California is the most expensive state for renters, and a majority of the renters are poor.
“You’re paying more than you need to pay,” says Mary Ann Smith, a director with the nonprofit group California Community Housing Coalition.
“There are people who have to be in poverty.
There’s no other option.”
Stokes says the housing crisis is the result of poor housing policy and lack of investment in public housing.
The lack of investments in affordable housing, which he says is often poorly maintained, makes it harder for low and moderate income families to find permanent housing, and often makes it more difficult for those families to keep their kids out of harm’s way.
“It’s not that we’re not going to get more housing,” Stokes said.
“But we’re going to have more housing that’s not being built.”
And that housing is not always affordable.
About half of California households make less than 60 percent of the area median income.
In Westlake’s community of 1,400 people, some homes have gone for $500,000 or more.
Stokes worries that the housing bubble is also the result.
The California economy is slowing down, and many of the jobs that were created in the housing boom have not kept pace.
The housing crisis may be a symptom, but it may also be a problem.
Stocks are also up.
The S&P 500 is up 7 percent this year.