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Study: Poverty In San Diego Suburbs Increasing

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Study: Poverty In San Diego Suburbs Increasing
Study: Poverty In San Diego Suburbs Increasing GUESTS:Erik Bruvold, president, National University System Institute for Policy ResearchMurtaza Baxamusa, secretary-treasurer of the Middle Class Taxpayers Association

Our top story on midday edition. Poverty in San Diego. It is not confined to the urban poor of the city. A new research paper findings that concentrated pockets of poverty have increased in suburban neighborhoods around the county. The percentage of San Diego County residents living in poor neighborhoods has jumped more than 10% in the last 16 years. Joining me is Erik Bruvold president of the national University system Institute . Who compiled the report on concentrated poverty in San Diego County. To the show. Thanks for having me. Murtaza Baxamusa is secretary-treasurer of the taxpayer. Welcome back. Thank you for joining us. Eric this report uses a term highly concentrated poverty. What exactly does that mean. What we define that as is the number of people that are below the poverty line who also live in census tracts and neighborhoods where more than 20% of their neighbors also lived below the poverty line. That is how we define highly concentrated poverty. We define extremely concentrated poverty using the same terms that were 40% of the neighbors lived below the poverty line. This report finds that pockets of highly concentrated poverty exist around the county, in the suburbs. Where are those areas? Really they are all over. They are places like Escondido and parts of Escondido, El Cajon where more than 25% of the population in that city lives below the federal poverty line. But also communities we would not necessarily think of like Carlsbad, places in Oceanside, pockets in the unincorporated area. What we have seen over the past 15 years is an increase in the number of people that are living in those kinds of communities in the suburban areas of the County of San Diego. Where did you get the statistics for this report the Mac We used in the American community survey which is part of the US census and we used the five-year ACS. The period between 2010 and 2014. They went out and surveyed several San Diego people who would give us a good sample size to look at. That is part of the program which replaced the old long form which people might remember from way back when. It is away from gathering Democratic statistics. In any of the statistics does it give ideas as to whether or not the great recession had anything to do with the increase that you have documented in these concentrated poverty areas? Absolutely. Clearly our rate of highly concentrated poverty is just under 5% before the great recession to call. It has increased significantly since then. I think what you have seen is that clearly that has been an important part of it but what we see looking at the internal demographics is that this is not necessarily a story about people being laid off or being disassociated from the labor force. In fact, labor participation rates in these neighborhoods is about the same as it is throughout the county. This is really a story not about unemployment and chronic disassociation from work, but rather low wage work in our County and how we have seen a structural change and policy changes which have created a lot more low-wage jobs than they have middle wage jobs that are at a nether tear. 22 this is something you have been talking about for several years. My -- many people think concentrated poverty exist only in urban areas but you also found otherwise in a report. Yes after the great recession I looked at the data and my findings were quite similar to what Eric found. Essentially what you see is let's look at poverty in the context of San Diego. Typically the federal poverty level does not necessarily capture the cost of living here. If you look at the self sufficiency standard, 1 in 3 houses are living below and do not make ends meet. Where do they live? They live in those neighborhoods where half of the neighborhoods around them are all struggling to make ends meet. That is what captures the real-life effects of the concentrated poverty that Eric is talking about. Exactly right. One of the main features of the report is what Murtaza Baxamusa was just talking about. It says the effects of concentrated poverty on individuals who live there -- in other words being poor in a poor neighborhood is a double burden. That is exactly right in what we know is we need to control these other factors are crime rates tend to be higher cost schools perform lesser, and there's less investment to create job opportunities. Then that creates burdens on people to travel further for work as well as things like food deserts and lack of access to affordable and fresh groceries. Really for individuals living in those kinds of communities, not only are they facing their individual struggles, but their environmental stresses and challenges make it even harder to lift themselves and their family out of poverty. One of those factors is that it is harder to build any wealth in these neighborhoods. For instance property values. They don't go out. Not as quickly or as much as in middle class neighborhoods. Correct. The professor from Harvard University did a project to demonstrate that neighborhoods often contribute towards causing the decline in economic mobility which means that people tend to rise upwards on the income ladder more or less depending on the environment of the neighborhood. In the real-life circumstances if somebody is stuck in a place of poverty, a child that is born into a household that is poor has fewer opportunities to succeed because of the circumstances of their neighborhood. Not just the larger economic forces. Without getting too far into the weeds we have policies that sometimes contribute to this concentration of poverty. For example we have a lot of jurisdictions in the region that have something called affordable housing requirements. If you have a certain market of affordable housing to provide a synonym it units that are affordable. We allow builders to pay money in lieu of this on-site. That is good because it concentrates resources. But if jurisdictions are not careful about they can concentrate the affordable housing projects only in a few neighborhoods and that contributes to this problem of concentrated poverty. What you are saying is it makes the problem of poverty even more difficult to solve. Absolutely. Here's the final thing. Some people say well my circumstances are okay. That's not me. You are talking about other people. Researchers have found the cost to deliver services into communities with concentrated poverty's, those non-social services, things like police and fire are actually more expensive on a per capita basis. That may be because it is more difficult to service communities. You may have to pay a higher wage to municipal employees to get them to serve those communities. Everybody loses from having those kinds of problems. While you don't address dealing with it head on and tried to ameliorate that concentration of people struggling. Let's talk about -- I know that your report highlights a couple of possible solutions or suggestions about this. Let me go to you first Murtaza Baxamusa because I know a lot of people have been talking for years. Eric mentioned the fact that most of the people in these neighborhoods are working but working in low-wage jobs, jobs that are not paying enough to make that step up into the middle class. How do we get there? If you look at the picture of poor people there are 460,000 people. 100,000 of them are working full-time or part-time. They are working poverty. Even a one dollar increase in the minimum wage for these workers would result in $200 million in economic kickback for the economy. There is direct impact their of helping them. Then there are 120,000 children that are poor. That is the part where it really makes a difference in terms of the environment that we bring them up in. For example if San Diego County as a whole which has an average amount of income inequality and not as much mobility, you'd probably see an appreciation of roughly $700 in a low or poor income child when they become the age of 26. Whereas if they grow up in another county, that would be four times and increment. That is all related to income inequality, integration and segregation of neighborhoods. The level of opportunity of income mobility within those neighborhoods as low. I'm sorry. I don't quite get that. What is the difference between us and Contra Costa County? It's roughly $3500 increase in income per year at the age of 26 for a child that goes up at an average income in Contra Costa versus in San Diego County. That is the finding of this Harvard study. That is directly related to the level of income inequality segregation, education and similar mobility elements that Contra Costa County provides relative to San Diego. Icy. So what are the other suggestions that are in your policy brief on concentrated poverty in San Diego? One of the things that we focused on and the suggestion is the suburbanization of the concentrated poverty. Not just an inner-city or city of San Diego issue. We highlighted two things. One is the county to become much more focused and aware of this suburbanization and outward sprayed of concentrated poverty in terms of its service delivery infrastructure. It has legacy infrastructure. Its offices and focus is still city of San Diego centric. It needs to think about how much resources and staffing and focus it is doing in communities where we are seeing this grow in the far-flung regions of the County. The second thing is transportation mobility. Income is important. We're not going to debate that here. Another thing important is accessed from job opportunities and careers and lattices and being able to access multiple ones so you can find things to help your family and pay for it. To the extent which we don't have good transportation infrastructure. Especially mass transfer infrastructure. We are burdening families and asking them to pay for commuting and cars and additional childcare expenses. As opposed to saying we should focus on. We found one County that was poorly served in that way that still has a lot of people struggling in poverty. One last question to you Murtaza. The whole idea of the county focusing more on these outlying pockets of poverty , not just in the city of San Diego where the urban core. With that sort of increase the amount -- would level the disparity that you found in the wealth and the poorer parts of San Diego? I think the key issue for family struggling to make ends meet, especially with children, our basic necessities and life-support systems such as health, healthcare as well as shelter. And integrating the access out of there in the suburbs. It is not traditionally been provided. Especially because San Diego, as it enlarges, is going to be a gateway to more immigrants, more refugees coming in who want to be climbing up the socio-economic ladder. They come here and see this as the land of opportunity. We want to be able to provide those services where our clients need them, where our communities need them. Exactly right. I want to let everyone know that the policy brief is called concentrated poverty in San Diego County. It's presented by the national University system Institute for policy research of which my guest Eric's president. And Murtaza Baxamusa is secretary treasurer. Thank you both very much. Thank you Martin.

Study: Poverty In San Diego Suburbs Increasing
Poverty in San Diego is not confined to the urban core of the city. New research from National University found concentrated pockets of poverty have increased in suburban neighborhoods.

Poverty in San Diego is not confined to the urban core of the city. New research from National University System Institute for Policy Research found concentrated pockets of poverty have increased in suburban neighborhoods around the county.

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The percentage of San Diego County residents living in poor neighborhoods has jumped by more than 10 percent in the last 16 years, according to the policy brief.

Researchers used U.S. Census data and found the poverty rate in El Cajon increased nine percent to 25.8 percent between 2000 and 2014. During the same time period, the poverty rate in Escondido increased 6.4 percent to nearly 20 percent. In Carlsbad, the rate in 2000 was just under six percent and by 2014 more than 10 percent of the population fell below the poverty line.

Erik Bruvold, the president of the National University System Institute for Policy Research and the author of the policy brief, told KPBS's Maureen Cavanaugh the study focussed on "concentrated poverty."

Bruvold said "highly" concentrated poverty is defined as, "the number of people below the poverty line who live in neighborhoods where more than 20 percent of their neighbors also live below the poverty line."

The study also looked at "extremely" concentrated poverty, in which 40 percent of residents or more within a neighborhood are below the federal poverty line.

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Concentrated poverty exists within cities often considered more wealthy than San Diego's urban core, Bruvold said. The great recession did lead to an increase in poverty in these areas, but Bruvold said today's poverty rates are better explained by current income inequality throughout the county.

"This isn't necessarily a story about people being laid off," Bruvold said. "In fact, labor participation rates in these neighborhoods is about the same as it is throughout the county. So this is really a story not about unemployment, but rather low-wage work in our county."

Murtaza Baxamusa, secretary-treasurer of the Middle-Class Taxpayers Association in San Diego, told KPBS Midday Edition that his research has led to similar findings about concentrated poverty in San Diego county. He argued one way to reduce poverty rates in these neighborhoods would be to raise the minimum wage.

"Even a $1 increase in the minimum wage for these workers would result in a $200 million in economic impact in the county," Baxamusa said.

Bruvold said improving public transit in poor areas far from the urban core could also make a dent in concentrated poverty rates.

"To the extent to which we don't have good transportation infrastructure — especially mass transit infrastructure — into those communities, we're burdening families and asking them to pay for commuting in cars and additional childcare expenses," said Bruvold.

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