One in five Californians live in poverty, according to a new U.S. Census Bureau report.
Using the Supplemental Poverty Measure, which accounts for regional cost-of-living, the average poverty rate in California from 2014 through 2016 stood at 20.4 percent, the highest among the states and second only to the District of Columbia’s 21 percent average. The national average over that period of time was 14.7 percent.
Despite boasting one of the largest economies in the world, California has consistently topped national rankings of poverty. While the state only accounts for about 12 percent of the national population, for example, Californians comprise one-third of Temporary Assistance for Needy Families beneficiaries.
One of the largest factors driving California’s shamefully high poverty rates is the high cost of housing.
According to a draft report on the housing crisis by the California Department of Housing and Community Development, “production averaged less than 80,000 new homes annually over the last 10 years, and ongoing production continues to fall far below the projected need of 180,000 additional homes annually.”
As a result, homeownership rates are at the lowest they’ve been since the 1940s, as increasing proportions of renters find themselves rent-burdened. According to the California Budget & Policy Center, more than half of renter households pay more than 30 percent of their incomes for housing, and one-third pay more than half of their incomes for housing.
This situation, which also contributes to California’s unfortunate distinction of being home to approximately 22 percent of the nation’s homeless population, has imposed significant hardships on millions of people across the state, and exacerbated California’s high poverty rate.
State legislators have thus far focused primarily on advancing proposals to spend more taxpayer funds on housing. Instead, we encourage state lawmakers to focus their efforts on better streamlining housing…