One in Five Bay Area Residents Cannot Afford Basic Necessities, Including Health Care
About 25% of Bay Area residents do not earn enough money to afford basic necessities such as health care, child care and food, according to a United Way report released last month, the San Francisco Chronicle reports (Johnson, San Francisco Chronicle. 9/29).
The organization's Bottom Line Report is intended as an update to federal poverty guideline created in the 1960s. The federal poverty guideline is predominantly calculated on food costs and is adjusted only for inflation, according to Maria Stokes, a United Way spokesperson.
According to the report, San Bruno, South San Francisco, Menlo Park, East Palo Alto, Brisbane and unincorporated North Fair Oaks had the most "pockets of poverty," with 26% of residents living below what the organization defines as "self-sufficiency standard" (Hay, San Mateo County Times, 9/29).
United Way -- one of the largest private funders of health and human services in Northern California -- developed the self-sufficiency standard in 1996 and it is considered by many activists and academics to be a more accurate measure than the federal poverty guidelines, which do not account for cost-of-living variations among states, the Chronicle reports.
According to the report, Santa Clara, Alameda and San Francisco counties have the greatest number of families living below the self-sufficiency standard.
During a press conference, advocates said the state is at risk of developing a "two-tiered economy with employees at the top receiving good incomes and benefits, with the majority of workers stuck in low-paying jobs," the Chronicle reports.
Steven Pitts, an economist with the University of California-Berkeley Labor Center, said, "It's important to establish labor standards that prevent this" (San Francisco Chronicle, 9/29).