Why is this important

Income is a crucial element contributing to quality of life and is one of the strongest and most consistent predictors of health and disease.[i] In the United States, income is often reported as a percentage of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL), which has been defined as the amount of income providing a bare minimum of food, clothing, transportation, shelter and other necessities. Taking family size and age of family members into account, a household is assigned to a poverty category based on total before-tax income from all cash sources. In 2015 the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) for a family of 3 was $20,090 – which would be considered extremely low income in San Francisco. To get a true sense of the size of the “very low income” population in San Francisco it is often useful to count the number of persons living below 200% of the FPL, because many public assistance programs include individuals living at or below 185% of the FPL.[ii] For context, any family of three making less than $84,000 in 2015 would be considered low income in San Francisco, because of the very high cost of living.[iii]

How are we doing?

The American Community Survey (ACS) surveys residents on an annual basis; however, five years of aggregated data are necessary provide numbers at a census tract or neighborhood level. Here we are comparing data from the 2005-2009 and 2010-2014 ACS data sets. Between the two time periods, there were small but statistically significant increases in the proportion of residents living below 100% and 200% of the poverty level. Changes in the CMTL area were not significant. Poverty levels in the CMTL boundary are more than twice as high as rates citywide. Areas with the highest poverty in the CMTL include tracts, 124.01 and 125.01 which both have more than 73% of residents living below 200% of the poverty line.

Dataset Source

American Community Survey, 2005-2009 & 2010-2014.


[i] Paula Braveman, Egerter Susan, Barclay Colleen. “Income, Wealth and Health.” San Francisco, CA: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Commission to Build a Healthier America, April 2011.

[ii] US Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Proanning and Evaluation. U.S. Federal Poverty Guidelines Used To Determine Financial Eligibility For Certain Federal Programs. Available here: https://aspe.hhs.gov/poverty-guidelines

[ii] Bates, Lisa. State Income Limits for 2015 [Memorandum]. Sacramento, CA: California Department of Housing and Community Development. Available here: http://www.hcd.ca.gov/housing-policy-development/housing-resource-center/reports/state/inc2k15.pdf.