MercuryNews.com | 05/11/2006 | Study: State is one of poorest in U.S.
Critics have long complained that the federal government uses an outdated formula to calculate the official poverty standard, which determines individual eligibility for welfare and other programs, and is also used by the federal government when it allocates money to state and local agencies.
The formula is based on income levels and the cost of food, but does not take into account housing costs that vary greatly from one region to another, said Deborah Reed, who wrote the PPIC report.
For example, the federal poverty level for a family of four in 2004 was $19,157. But the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development estimated that fair market rent for a two-bedroom apartment that year in Santa Clara County was $21,852. That means a family earning $20,000 was above the poverty level, yet potentially homeless.
“There are people living just above the federal poverty level in California who are not doing as well as people who are officially living in poverty in Mississippi and Louisiana,” Reed said.
Using the official federal standard, California has the 15th-highest poverty rate in the country, with 13.3 percent of its residents living below the poverty threshold.
But when Reed adjusted the formula to reflect the cost of housing, California’s poverty rate rose to 16.1 percent. That gave it the third-highest ranking in the country, Reed said — behind only Washington, D.C., and New York.
Using Reed’s calculations, 15 percent of Santa Clara County residents live in poverty, compared with 12 percent nationally.
Wow… I never thought about this.
I love how people say “Oh, other than the cost of housing, living in the Bay Area isn’t that expensive.”
Does that make sense to you? Isn’t that like saying “Oh, other than the radiation, it’s pretty safe here.”