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Earn less than $100,000 in San Francisco? Then you are considered low income.

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Single people in San Francisco who earn less than $104,400 are considered low income, according to new government guidelines that determine who qualifies for some housing aid. 

That means that some people in California who are earning above six figures — a level that's viewed as high income by many Americans — may in fact struggle to afford the basics in those regions. Other California counties where a salary of about $100,000 for a single person qualifies as low income include Marin and San Mateo counties, with the latter home to Silicon Valley. 

Single workers in Los Angeles County, meanwhile, are considered low income if they earn less than $70,000, according to the new guidelines issued earlier this month by the California Department of Housing and Community Development. 

The income guidelines are used to determine whether people may qualify for housing programs, including Section 8 vouchers that provide rent assistance to low-income families. It may be shocking that a six-figure earner in San Francisco could qualify for housing assistance, but the median home sale price in the city was $1.4 million in May 2023, according to Zillow.

Meanwhile, the official poverty line across the U.S. stands at $12,880 for a single person, which is a guideline used for other aid programs such as food stamps and the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program. 

San Francisco is struggling with a host of issues, including businesses that are fleeing the city amid a rise in crime and homelessness, as well as an exodus of workers and residents as many tech companies switched to remote work during the pandemic. But despite those challenges, San Francisco remains home to many big businesses — and its real estate fetches a hefty price. 

Since 2016, the threshold to be considered low income as a single worker has jumped by more than $35,000, according to the San Francisco Examiner. 

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