Elderly Poverty Underestimated

Federal poverty guidelines understate the extent of elderly poverty throughout Santa Barbara County by as much as 350 percent, according to a new study just released by UCLA’s Center for Health Policy Research in conjunction with the Insight Center for Community Economic Development. According to the federal government’s poverty standards, anyone over 65 bringing in less than $10,830 a year qualifies as poor. But according to the UCLA report—which examined the actual cost of living specific to each of California’s 58 counties—the actual “economic security” standards in Santa Barbara are much higher. For homeowners who’ve paid off their mortgage, the report concluded a minimum income of $18,361 a year was required to stay above the poverty level. For people renting a one-bedroom apartment, the figure was $26,568. And for homeowners still paying off their mortgages, the number was $38,310.

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