New United Way Report: 37 Percent of California Households Struggle to Meet Their Basic Needs
The 2019 Real Cost Measure determines what a decent standard of living really costs in California. We find that 37% (more than 1 in 3) households in California struggle to meet basic living costs, which is roughly three times as many as federal poverty statistics would indicate.
Other key findings include:
- More than one in three California households—over 3.8 million families (37%)—do not earn sufficient income to meet basic needs
- Workers: Of the estimated 3.8 million households in California that fall below the Real Cost Measure, 9 in 10 have at least one working adult
- 6 in 10 Young Children Live in Struggling Households: 60% of households in California with children aged between 0 and 5 fall below the Real Cost Measure
- Housing Burden: Nearly 4 in 10 households in California (38%) pay more than 30% of their income on housing. Households living below the Federal Poverty Level can spend up to a staggering 76% of their income on housing.
- Households of all Ethnicities Struggle, but Rate is Higher for Latino and African Americans: Over 1.8 million Latino households are estimated to fall below the Real Cost Measure compared to over 1.2 million white households, 524,000 Asian American households, and 269,000 African-American households
- Single Mothers: Over 7 in 10 households led by single mothers in California (74%) fall below the Real Cost Measure
- As Education Increases, Rate of Struggling Households Falls: Nearly three-fourths of California householders without a high school diploma or equivalent (74%) fall below the Real Cost Measure, compared to those with at least a high school diploma (53%), those with at least some college education (38%), and those with at least a bachelor’s degree (18%)
- Foreign-Born Householders Have More Trouble Staying Afloat: Nearly one-third (30%) of California households led by a person born in the United States earn income below the Real Cost Measure. By contrast, 40% of households led by a person born outside the U.S. are below the Real Cost Measure, and that number rises to 62% when the householder is not a citizen.
Households living below the Real Cost Measure are overwhelmingly working families. They are doing their part, but as our data make clear, hard work alone is not enough to get ahead.
United Ways of California Lauds U.S. Supreme Court Decision to Decision to Temporarily Halt Addition of Citizenship Question in 2020 Census
United Ways of California (UWCA) celebrates the United States Supreme Court’s decision to remand to the district court in New York the question of whether to permit addition of an untested and unnecessary citizenship question in the 2020 Census—whose data will inform policy-making, determine the allocation of over $800 billion in funding and the makeup of our electoral representation, drive business decisions, and inform service providers and advocates about the needs of diverse communities.
“We are thankful the Court has, for now, halted the addition of the citizenship to the Census. United Ways, along with our partners and grantees support a range of initiatives that rely upon the completeness and accuracy of the 2020 Census,” said Peter Manzo, UWCA President and CEO. “These include increasing access to healthcare for the uninsured and underinsured; ending homelessness; increasing access to early childhood and youth development opportunities; providing chances to learn beyond high school; supporting community development; creating access to affordable housing; and delivering safety net services to vulnerable communities.”
Greater Support for Low-Income Workers, Kids’ Early Education, Healthcare & Housing; More to Do to Realize the Promise of California for All
California United Ways applaud the Governor’s bold proposal to expand the California Earned Income Tax Credit by 200%, (an increase from $400 million up to $1.2 billion) and strengthen its impact in fighting poverty —in particular in families with children under 6, where the credit will double from $500 to $1,000 per child. We know that one in three families in California struggle to meet basic living costs, according to our Real Cost Measure study, Struggling to Stay Afloat. The CalEITC and the federal EITC are the most effective tools we have for fighting poverty and helping working families and individuals move up the economic ladder, and reward and promote work. We strongly support the Governor’s proposal to provide a $1000 credit to CalEITC eligible families with young children (aged 0-6) and increase the credit for more families. We are deeply disappointed, however, that the Governor’s proposal continues to exclude many immigrant tax filers and their families who contribute significantly to our economy and society, but file their taxes with a federally assigned Individual Tax Identification Number (ITINs).
Statement on the 2019-2020 State Budget Agreement
There is much to be pleased about and proud of in the compromise agreement on the budget that the Governor and leaders from the Senate and Assembly have reached, in early childhood education, housing and health, as we discuss further below. But we are concerned that the agreement may fumble a critical opportunity to help low-income families move up.
We are concerned that the package for the California earned income tax credit (CalEITC) remains unresolved. The CalEITC is one of the most effective tools we have for helping California families move out of poverty. Going into conference, the budget proposals from the Governor, Senate and Assembly all called for significantly expanding the, to increase the eligibility of the credit to track with full-time minimum wage earnings as the minimum wage increases, and to provide an enhanced credit to families with young children. Importantly, the Senate and Assembly proposals included providing access to the CalEITC to taxpayers who file with, or whose households merely include, an adult using a federally assigned Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN).
United Ways of California Joins Amicus Brief Urging Supreme Court to Reject Citizenship Question in 2020 Census:
“It is unusual for philanthropy to come before the Court,” said Peter Manzo, President & CEO of United Ways of California, “but we and our partners want to ensure the Court understands how important accurate Census data are to effective philanthropic and charitable activities, and the harm an undercount in the upcoming 2020 Census will have on philanthropy’s ability to design data-driven investments and solutions tailored to local communities.”
A prime concern is whether the 2020 Census will ask people about their citizenship status, as has been proposed. The Census Bureau’s own analysis suggests that the effects of adding the citizenship question to the 2020 Census would significantly reduce the accuracy of the count. The inaccuracy that would result from this question is especially problematic because the groups likely to be undercounted are central to philanthropy’s mission, including young children, immigrants, low income families, and people in rural areas.
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