Real Estate

Who owns homes in SLO County? Hint: They’re probably white and over 45

These are some of the issues behind California’s housing crisis

California's housing crisis is due in large part to a lack of supply, particularly when it comes to affordable housing, and it is hitting low-income individuals the hardest.
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California's housing crisis is due in large part to a lack of supply, particularly when it comes to affordable housing, and it is hitting low-income individuals the hardest.

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Housing in SLO County: Who can afford it?

Living in SLO County is expensive. We’re exploring what it takes to afford a home on the Central Coast. Read more of our stories here:


Buying a house in San Luis Obispo County isn’t easy for anyone, but it’s probably particularly difficult if you’re younger and not white.

Housing markets in all areas of the county are dominated by homeowners who are 45 or older and white — even in cities and communities with more young people and larger populations of Latino residents, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Five-year data estimates of owner-occupied housing demographics show a big disparity between what communities look like and who owns houses.

For example, Oceano has the largest population of Latinos in the county — nearly 50% of residents identify as belonging to that group, while 41% identify as white.

But Latinos make up only about 23% of the community’s homeowners, while white residents account for about 66%.

The same is true in Paso Robles, where about 40% of residents identify as Latino and 56% as white. However, just 16% of the city’s homeowners are Latinos, compared to nearly 80% who are white.

Similarly, homes in cities and communities with large populations of people under 35 are still owned primarily by middle-aged and elderly residents.

San Luis Obispo has the biggest population of residents under 35 — 61%, thanks in large part to Cal Poly — but just 8 percent of homeowners fit into that age group.

More than 81 percent of San Luis Obispo homeowners are 45 or older.

The trend carries throughout the county, even in communities without lots of college students.

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Grover Beach has the second-largest population of residents under 35 at about 50%, but just 8% of homeowners are in that age bracket.

In three SLO County communities, more than 90 percent of homeowners are 45 or older: Pismo Beach at 90.1%, Morro Bay at 90.3% and Cambria at 96.3%.

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Lindsey Holden writes about housing and everything in between for The Tribune in San Luis Obispo. She also covers communities in northern San Luis Obispo County. Lindsey became a staff writer in 2016 after working for the Rockford Register Star in Illinois. She’s a native Californian raised in the Midwest and is a proud graduate of two Chicago schools: DePaul University and Northwestern University.
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