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.
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).
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).
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.
Restoring Healthy Start Will Connect Students and Families with Services
Richmond, Calif. — Flanked by leaders of the United Ways of California, the Children’s Defense Fund of California, and Richmond’s RYSE Youth Center, Assemblymember Buffy Wicks (D-Oakland) announced her bill, AB 875, to reestablish California’s Healthy Start program to connect children and families with critical services to improve health and academic outcomes and remedy trauma and violence.
"For over 15 years Healthy Start was a proven program,"said Peter Manzo, President & CEO, United Ways of California. "We’ve gone without it since 2007 And that’s 12 years too long. We’re thrilled Assemblymember Wicks is authoring AB 875. And we look forward to working with her and our fellow champions for children, youth, and families to launch a renewed Healthy Start. One whose impact delivers on the promise of California for all."
Assemblymember Wicks and Statewide Advocates Call for Reestablishment of Healthy Start Program
Richmond, Calif. — Assemblymember Buffy Wicks (D-Oakland) will join with advocates from United Ways of California, RYSE Youth Center, Children’s Defense Fund, and others to announce the introduction of AB 875 to reestablish “Healthy Start.” Health Start, established in 1991 with bipartisan support, was a historic program that gave seed money grants to Local Education Agencies and community partners to address the social determinants of health and comprehensively meet the needs of students and their families. The program, which was cut in 2007 as a result of the Great Recession, helped connect children and families to services related to: dental health, mental health, vision, academic support, job training, violence intervention and prevention, parenting education, and more. Healthy Start 2.0 will build on the positive community-level impacts of the original program by integrating child- and family-facing service systems and emphasizing evidence-based approaches to program access and effectiveness, especially for high-need communities.
Coalition Encouraged by Governor’s Support and Expansion of CalEITC | More Than 400,000 New Households Expected to be Eligible
Sacramento, CA – Statement from the CalEITC Advocacy Coalition, of which the United Ways of California is a proud member, regarding the Governor’s budget proposal:
The CalEITC Advocacy Coalition is pleased to see the Governor proposing support and continued expansion of the California’s Earned Income Tax Credit to help working families. The California Earned Income Tax Credit (CalEITC) provides much-needed assistance to working families and individuals who are struggling to make ends meet. The Governor’s Budget is a step in the right direction in meeting many of the coalition’s goals, including increasing the credit for families with young children and expanding the income eligibility guidelines to reach more Californians. We look forward to working with the legislature to further strengthen the credit by ensuring that all working tax filers who meet the income eligibility are eligible for the credit, including working immigrant tax filers.
Governor’s Budget Invests in CalEITC, Kids’ Early Education & Healthcare
Los Angeles, CA – Statement from Peter Manzo, President and CEO of the United Ways of California, (UWCA) regarding Governor Gavin Newsom’s 2019-2020 budget proposal:
United Ways of California Assists CalSavers to Boost Saving for Retirement by California Private Sector Employees
Los Angeles, CA - Below is a statement from Peter Manzo, President and CEO, on behalf of United Ways of California (UWCA) regarding the new retirement savings program, CalSavers:
United Ways of California is proud to announce a grant from the Laura and John Arnold Foundation to support a statewide initiative to engage and educate business leaders and employees about CalSavers, a new retirement savings program created by the state to enable more Californians to save for retirement.
California’s 2018-2019 State Budget Provides Important Investments for Low-Income Families
Los Angeles, CA – Below is a statement from Peter Manzo, President and CEO, on behalf of United Ways of California (UWCA), regarding the final State Budget signed today:
The final budget signed by Governor Brown today provides significant investments in California families. As a state, we are making good progress towards our ultimate goal of supporting all Californians to be healthy, educated and financially stable.
California’s State Budget Agreement Increases Eligibility for the CalEITC, Funds Free Tax Preparation and Increases Funding to House the Homeless
Los Angeles, CA – Below is a statement from Peter Manzo, President and CEO, on behalf of United Ways of California (UWCA), regarding the proposed State Budget agreement:
California is the fifth largest economy in the world and is experiencing an almost $9 billion surplus, so while United Ways of California is pleased that the budget agreement between Governor Brown and the Legislature includes more workers in the state earned income tax credit and funding to address the growing housing and homelessness crisis, we also see missed opportunities for smart and much needed investments in healthcare and expanded early child care.
Governor’s May Revise Includes Hope for Low Income Households by Increasing Investment in CalEITC and Addressing California’s Housing Crisis
Los Angeles, CA – Below is a statement from Peter Manzo, President and CEO, on behalf of United Ways of California (UWCA), regarding the Governor’s May Revise budget proposal:
United Ways of California is delighted to see the Governor’s May Revise include more workers in the state earned income tax credit and also the proposed commitments to lifting up low-income households and ensuring that more investments are made to address the growing housing and homelessness crisis.
UWCA Sponsors Measure to Extend Tax Credit to More Poor Working Households
March 26, 2018
SACRAMENTO -- United Ways of California is sponsoring Assembly Bill 2066 to reduce poverty among working Californians and to boost local economies. Assemblymembers Mark Stone (D-Monterey Bay) and Eloise Gómez Reyes (D-San Bernardino) have jointly introduced the measure to extend the California Earned Income Tax Credit (CalEITC) to working families and individuals currently ineligible for the credit, including low-income youth, seniors, and immigrants without Social Security Numbers. United Ways of California is joined by Children’s Defense Fund-CA, California Immigrant Policy Center and Golden State Opportunity Fund as co-sponsors for the bill.
Governor’s Budget Proposal Increases Investment in Kids’ Education and Protects Their Health
Los Angeles, CA –Below is a statement from Peter Manzo, President and CEO, on behalf of United Ways of California (UWCA), regarding the Governor’s proposed budget release:
In a time of great uncertainty about federal budget commitments to California, United Ways of California is pleased to see the Governor’s commitment to continuing crucial support to children’s education and health programs, even as he tops off California’s Rainy Day Fund. We thank the Governor and legislature for guiding us to a significant budget surplus.
Open Letter to CA Congressional Delegation: Pass Legislation to Protect California Dreamers and DACA
Sept. 8, 2017
To: Members of California’s congressional delegation
RE: Pass Legislation to Protect California Dreamers and DACA
Dear Majority Leader McCarthy, Minority Leader Pelosi, Senator Feinstein, Senator Harris, and all members of California’s congressional delegation:
This week the White House announced its decision to rescind the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which protects approximately 242,339 young people from deportation in California. Nationwide, the DACA program is a lifeline for nearly 800,000 young immigrants who came to this country as children. We urge you to take action to protect them by passing legislation to protect their status.
More Articles ...
- State Budget Helps Low-Income Californians and Children by Expanding CalEITC and Denti-Cal
- Joint Press Release: Advocates Celebrate the Expansion of the California Earned Income Tax Credit to Reach More than One Million Additional Low-Income Working Families
- Governor’s Revised Budget Avoids Drastic Cuts but Misses Opportunities
- American Health Care Act Puts Millions of Californians at Risk
- Governor’s Budget Proposal Shows Commitment to Children and Families in Education, Health and Income in a Time of Uncertainty