By Elizabeth Zach, RCAC staff writer

Five percent of California families live in “deep poverty,” a segment of the population, say researchers, made worse by the state’s exorbitant housing costs.

According to the Public Policy Institute of California, which released a report in November titled “Reducing Child Poverty in California,” nearly a quarter of the state’s children five-years-old and younger live in poverty. Their families, the report states, spend more than half of their income on housing at the expense of food and health care.

Citing the California Poverty Measure, which relies on work income, social service benefits and the average cost of living, the report’s authors say California has one of the highest poverty rates in the country.

“I think the numbers are shocking for most Californians,” Sarah Bohn, the report’s researcher and co-author told EdSource. She and the other authors studied the unemployment rate and state median income. “…but there is a lot going on under the surface that is not reflected in those broad numbers.”

Poor families, Bohn and her colleagues found, are more likely to be “housing burdened,” which the report defines as a family that spends more than 50 percent of its income on housing. The report, she said, focuses on children five years and younger because this period is critical to human development and it is also costly for families as they balance work and child care costs.

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