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United Way recalculates poverty in California with Real Cost Measure

Posted at 11:32 AM, Jun 06, 2018

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - California families are feeling the financial burden of living in the Golden State, according to a report issued Wednesday by the United Ways of California.

The report, Struggling to Stay Afloat: The Real Cost Measure in California 2018, weighs the costs of housing, food, healthcare, child care, and transportation to establish a poverty level which it says is not accurately accounted in the government’s official poverty measure.

United Way calls its adjusted poverty level the Real Cost Measure.

In San Diego County, 30 percent of households, or 271,821, were below the adjusted poverty level. All but 3 percent of those households had a working adult.

Real-cost budgets for San Diego County also calculated to $26,845 for one adult, $40,289 for two adults, and $76,350 for two adults, a school-age child, and an infant.

Key findings of the study include:

  • More than one in three California households don’t earn sufficient income to meet basic needs. At least 90 percent of those homes have at least one working adult.
  • 38 percent of California households pay more than 30 percent of their income on housing. The spending rose as high as 79 percent for some households below the federal poverty level.
  • Latino households are more likely to struggle than other ethnic groups.
  • 72 percent of single mothers fall below the Real Cost Measure.
  • 6 in 10 young children live in struggling households.
  • 29 percent of seniors struggle to meet basic needs, according to the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research’s Elder Index.

A breakdown of which California counties are below the Real Cost Measure shows tough economic times for the San Diego region. The western portion of Chula Vista and National City had the highest number of families below the level, at 52 percent. The greater Otay and South Bay areas were at 49 percent. Del Mar, Carlsbad, Encinitas and Rancho Bernardo/Poway had the fewest families in poverty, with percentages in the teens.

Darker colors indicate higher numbers of families below the Real Cost Measure.

The United Way created solutions for families, including a household budget system. It allows users to select their county, enter the number of people in the household by age to determine the average costs of basic needs.

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