$100K considered "low income" in parts of Bay Area

SAN FRANCISCO -- New figures from the federal government find that in parts of the Bay Area, some people who bring in a six-figure income can be considered “low-income,” CBS SF Bay Area reports

Edward Apana, of South San Francisco, who is married with two children, says the cost of living in the Bay Area is a challenge, so to hear that six-figures is now considered “low income” is a bit shocking, but not that hard to believe.

“Between the two of us, we can still make San Francisco, San Mateo County home,” Apana said. “But if one of us were to lose our job, it would be kind of tough.” 

The new numbers come from the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and specifically have to do with eligibility for government assistance for housing.

HUD says a family of four in San Francisco or San Mateo County with an income of $105,350 is considered “low income.” 

For Alameda and Contra Costa County, $80,400 is considered low income.

“These are certainly dramatic numbers,” said Michael Bernick, former director of the state Employment Development Department.

Bernick said the drama stems from positive economic indicators. Unemployment, for example, is four percent or less in most Bay Area counties. In San Francisco, the unemployment rate is 3 percent; in San Mateo County, it is even lower. 

Also, of the 19,000 jobs created in the state last month, 13,000 were in the Bay Area.

“We’re just creating a lot of jobs,” Bernick said. 

“We’re a victim of our own success?” CBS SF Bay Area asked.

“That’s part of it,” Bernick said. “And, part of the broader housing dynamic in terms of the desire of people to live here.”

The main housing dynamic? Not enough affordable housing.

“If I didn’t have any family here and my kids didn’t have any friends, we may be living somewhere else,” Apana said. “People think we’re crazy. It is what it is, but we call it home.” 

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Edward Apana, of South San Francisco.

CBS SF Bay Area

The Bay Area’s HUD income limits are the highest of any metropolitan area in the country. By comparison, $72,000 a year in Seattle is “low income” for a family of four. In Boston, it’s about $78,000.