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 2009-2013 and 2014-2018 ACS data sets. Between the two time periods, there were statistically significant decreases in the proportion of residents living below 100% and 200% of the poverty level in both the CMTL area and the city overall. In the CMTL, the percent of residents living below 100% of the poverty level decreased from 33% to 25% and the percent of residents living below 200% of the poverty level decreased from 63% to 45%. These levels are still twice as high as the city overall. Areas with the highest poverty in the CMTL include tracts, 125.01 and 125.02 which both have more than 62% of residents living below 200% of the poverty line.

Dataset Source

American Community Survey, 2009-2013 & 2014-2018


[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.