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Poverty High In National City, Imperial Beach, Report Finds

Lileana Robles (right) works at the advocacy group Alliance of Californians f...

Photo by Claire Trageser

Above: Lileana Robles (right) works at the advocacy group Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment, March 17, 2017.

In National City, the median income in 2015 was $44,694 a year, and in Imperial Beach it was $43,132 a year. Both fall far below the median income of $67,320 a year in all of San Diego County.

Residents of National City and Imperial Beach are especially struggling to make ends meet, according to a new report from the advocacy organization Center on Policy Initiatives.

In National City, 21.7 percent of people were living below the federal poverty level in 2015, which was $24,250 for a family of four. In Imperial Beach, that number was 24.7 percent. That's compared to just under 13.8 percent in all of San Diego County.

In National City, the median income in 2015 was $44,694 a year, and in Imperial Beach it was $43,132 a year. Both fell far below the 2015 median of $67,320 a year in all of San Diego County.

To take into account the higher cost of living in San Diego County, the report also did a calculation for region-specific economic hardship. That analysis found 47 percent of National City residents and 53.3 percent of Imperial Beach residents do not earn enough to make ends meet.

The report also found residents in other South Bay cities are struggling. That includes Lileana Robles, mom to three boys in Chula Vista. She works as an office manager, but is currently out of a job. Her husband's income as a plumber isn't enough for the family to get by.

"They eat a lot, it's expensive," she said of her sons. "I say us moms have to see beyond the struggle and make the impossible happen."

Robles said most people she knows spend more than 30 percent of their income on housing.

"That's unacceptable, I think," she said. "To think 50, 60, 70 percent, it's a lot of your income. So what money do I have leftover to give my children what they want? Zero. It's very difficult."

While the city of San Diego raised its minimum wage, that isn't true for other county residents like Robles. She said the state's minimum wage increase of 50 cents an hour wasn't enough.

"That rises, so does the cost of living," she said. "It rises just the same, if not more."

So she's been working with the advocacy group Alliance of Californians for Community Empowerment to fight for a bigger wage bump and rent control.

"I think everyone I know is poverty level and below," she said. "I don't think I know anyone above poverty level. That's sad, that's really sad."

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