California steals the No. 1 poverty state from Mississippi
When taking housing and living expenses into account, California has more poor people than Mississippi, and all southern states.
by Ron Burgess
Redlands, CA – The US Census Bureau released a new calculation of poverty; one that is more realistic than the old one. It’s called the Supplemental Poverty Measure (SMP) . This new calculation adjusts classic poverty levels by the living expenses in each area. Using this better measure flips the numbers on their heads.
California takes the No. 1 spot from Mississippi. Yes, you read that right! When taking housing and living expenses into account, California has more poor people than Mississippi, and all southern states.
The SPM poverty calculation puts over 20% of all Californians below the poverty level. For comparison, Colorado’s is just 11%. The money earned may be higher but the cost to live is even higher in California, so money left over for food and other essentials is much lower, which makes getting by even harder.
In California, even the county poverty rates have flipped. Orange and LA County has a higher poverty rate than San Bernardino or Riverside County! This is simply due to the cost of living on the coasts. The Orange County Register  reported that over a quarter of the kids in that county live in poverty.
Los Angeles has the state’s highest poverty rate at 26.9 %. The OC is 24.3 %, both far higher than Riverside County at 20.4% San Bernardino County at 19.5% .
Housing like all things (other than medical care) we buy, goes up when there is a shortage. Economists call this “more money chasing less product”. Why is this, even with our economic recovery? Because local, and state governments and public initiatives have made it more difficult to build. The land costs more due to fees, the time to ready property is longer due to regulations, the cost of building is higher due to more stringent requirements for everything from heat loss to fire suppression, new energy efficient water heaters, and high efficiency HVAC. Some of these might make sense if you have the money, but if you don’t, a place that has single pane glass is always better no place at all.
Ultra-high real estate costs, naturally are the primary reason. Ironically just last week, Governor Brown signed a proposed new bond measure that increases costs on real estate even more . New fees on transactions will increase the cost to buy, sell and transfer property for all citizens. And irony of all ironies, the money will go to provide more public housing!
The liberals shout that this means California needs more federal money for the poor, conservatives on the other hand see a problem that was created by government in the first place.
Of course, Illegal immigration weighs in heavily here too. Not only do they need a place to live, the fact that they occupy housing, means the short housing stock is even more expensive to all. Now the new SPM accurately measures the collective impact all these costs have on the most pressed in our society.
California, we should be embarrassed. We should wake up and realize the old days are gone, its somehow clearer now why we can’t attract businesses to the state. The fewer businesses, the fewer the jobs, the lower the household income. With a housing shortage, we get more real poverty. Get used to the new west coast Mississippi, its likely to last a long time.
 The Supplemental Poverty Measure: 2016, September 21, 2017 https://www.census.gov/library/publications/2017/demo/p60-261.html
 More than a quarter of Orange County’s youngest kids live in Poverty, Margot Roosevelt, February 23, 2017. http://www.ocregister.com/2017/02/23/more-than-a-quarter-of-orange-countys-youngest-kids-live-in-poverty/
 Reported by the SUN, Inland Empire just a bit better off, relatively speaking: Editorial, October 2, 2013. http://www.sbsun.com/2013/10/02/inland-empire-just-a-bit-better-off-relatively-speaking-editorial/
 Wall Street Journal, Alejandro Lazo, California will Charge New Fees on Real-Estate Deals to Pay for Affordable Housing, Sept. 29, 2017 – https://www.wsj.com/articles/california-will-charge-new-fees-on-real-estate-deals-to-pay-for-affordable-housing-1506722665