October 9, 2013

Poverty In San Mateo County Much Worse Than Reported

SOME 18 percent of San Mateo County residents live in poverty, almost three times as many people as are considered poor by the federal government, according to new data from Beth Mattingly, a Stanford University researcher.

Mattingly’s research sought to construct a more accurate measure of poverty levels by including more available data — especially the cost of housing, child care and transportation. Where federal statistics show that only 49,534 county residents live in poverty, Mattingly says the actual number is 136,033.

The dramatic difference is largely driven by housing costs, Mattingly said, because the Stanford poverty measurement considers more than noncash and post-tax resources, also including expenses. The new measurement method — called the California Poverty Measure — is part of the Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality’s ongoing effort to
better understand the extent of economic hardship in the state.

The high cost of housing and the high number of low-paying jobs contribute to the problem. The average rental cost of a one-bedroom apartment in the county is $2,053 a month — an 8.2 percent increase over last year, according to county Housing Department data. Homelessness has also jumped 12 percent since 2011.

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