Center for Policy Initiatives Releases Poverty Report in East County



File Picture Border Fire shows the rugged nature of some areas of the East County


April 26, 2017 (San Diego) The Center for Policy Initiatives released a report on poverty in the East County. The report has some surprises, for those of us following the issues of poverty in San Diego. These are the key findings:

Poverty in East County: One of every seven people living in the East County region of San Diego County – 14.1% of the population – lived in poverty during 2011-2015. The poverty rate varied across East County cities from 7.8% in Santee to 24.2% in El Cajon.

Children in Poverty: Children were particularly likely to live in households with below-poverty incomes throughout the region, especially in El Cajon and Lemon Grove.

Low Pay in Key Industries: Among the industries employing the most East County residents, the lowest incomes were in the Accommodation and Food Services, primarily hotels and restaurants. The median pay for East County residents employed in that industry was $24,093 a year for full-time, year-round work. More than half the jobs were part-time, with lower income.

There are other findings that were somewhat of a surprise for me.

The 2015 Median income went down in the city of El Cajon. It stood at $45,925 going down by $10, 429. This is lower than it was before 2007, though the Great Recession affected the whole county, reducing median incomes.

Another key finding involves housing cost. From the report:

The median cost of renting a 2-bedroom apartment in East County was $1,201, with the highest rent in La Mesa. Housing, the biggest expense in most family budgets, is considered unaffordable if it consumes more than 30% of household income. So an East County family needs an income of $48,040 a year, well above poverty level, to afford the median 2-bedroom rent without doubling up, relying on assistance, or cutting out needed items. Throughout the region, 60% of renters have incomes too low for the local housing costs.

This explains why many poor San Diegans are being pushed as far north as Riverside to find affordable housing. This according to the Voice of San Diego. 



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1 reply

  1. Nadin – The reason why income in El Cajon probably went down is the large influx of refugees coming in – there was a huge number of Iraq War refugees flooding into El Cajon during those years, whole families. In 2008 when we started ECM there were around 10,000 Iraqi Chaldeans in El Cajon. Today it’s more like 50,000, give or take a little. The early Chaldeans who came here were mostly professionals and had money. The later ones were refugees coming with nothing and many didn’t speak English. We’ve also gotten Muslim refugees from various places in the Middle East.

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