California has always been seen as the place to turn dreams into reality. It seems like Hollywood can take anyone and make them into a movie star. The state’s picturesque valleys, world-famous cities and year-round warm weather draw thousands of new residents every year. While these residents may come to the West Coast full of hope, living there long enough may turn all those dreams and hopes into nightmares.
An article published by the Sacramento Bee reported that about one-third of all Californian residents live at or below the U.S. poverty line. An immediate answer to this staggering statistic is the high cost of living one experiences as a Californian resident. A study by the United Ways of California “identified housing costs as the major factor in poverty, with struggling families spending over half of their incomes for shelter, with rents of two-bedroom housing units ranging from $584 a month in Modoc County to $1,905 in Marin, San Francisco and San Mateo counties.” In the simplest of terms, California isn’t cheap.
The percentage of Californians in poverty is composed of various demographics. For example, a little over 50% of all Latino families and 40% of African-American families reside under the poverty line, compared to 20% of all white families. Poverty levels spike within urban areas, with inner-city Los Angeles accounting for an astonishing 80% of all Californian residents in poverty.
At times, Californians are crippled with unrealistic housing costs. An article by AlJazeera America explored the alarming costs of owning property in California. An excerpt from the article reads, “In some California counties, the ‘real cost of living’ can exceed the federal poverty level by 300 percent. In San Diego County, for example, the household budget for two adults with one infant and one school-age child is $57,759 or 248 percent above the federal poverty line.” People in California spend more than half of their income just trying to pay their rent.
Times are vastly different in California now than they ever have been. Gone is the image of the original “Golden State.” The West Coast now offers a cruel glimpse into global poverty right here in our United States.
– Diego Catala