Sunday, October 17, 2010



Children Living in Low Income Families Trending Upward

Description of Indicator
This indicator measures Orange County families’ progress toward self-sufficiency and economic stability by tracking enrollment in
core public assistance programs and the proportion of children living in low income families.

Why is it Important?
While most families in Orange County do well, the families
struggling to get by are the focus of this indicator. The
challenges associated with poverty – stress, strained family
relationships, substandard housing, lower educational
attainment, limited employment skills, unaffordable child care,
and transportation difficulties – make it hard for low income
families to obtain and maintain employment. Economic stability
can have lasting and measurable benefits for both parents
and children.

How is Orange County Doing?
Enrollment in cash assistance programs remained steady, while
food and health insurance program participation grew:
• The number of people receiving CalWORKs cash
assistance (38,498 in 2007/08) remained the same for the
first time in more than 10 years of steady declines.
• Welfare-to-Work participation in employment, education
and services remained largely unchanged.
• The number of people receiving Food Stamps continues to
grow, currently at 88,284 people, or 2.8% of the total
county population.1
• Medi-Cal enrollment grew 3% last year, while Healthy
Families enrollment rose 8%.
• The increasing enrollments for programs without time
limits reflects expanded eligibility and increased efforts to
enroll income-eligible people.

While the proportion of children living in low income families
fluctuates each year, the long-term trend is upward:

• 40% of students were eligible for free or reduced price
school meals in 2007/08, an increase of 6% over the past 10
• Wide disparities within the county are evident.


Housing Assistance Scarce; More Families Live Doubled-Up

Description of Indicator
This indicator measures Orange County families’ progress
toward housing stability by tracking availability of rental assistance,
and children that are homeless or living in unstable housing
arrangements. For additional countywide housing trends,
see Housing Demand, Housing Affordability, and Rental

Why is it Important?
High housing costs in Orange County force many families into
living conditions they would not choose otherwise. Living
doubled- or tripled-up with another family due to economic
constraints can place stress on personal relationships, housing
stock, public services and infrastructure. When shared housing
is not an option, or if other factors arise, such as foreclosure,
financial loss, or domestic violence, the result can be homelessness.

How is Orange County Doing?
Most residents seeking rental assistance will wait many years for
a voucher unless conditions or funding levels change:
• At the end of December 2008, there were 11,654 applicants
waiting for a Housing Choice Voucher.
• During 2008, the Orange County Housing Authority used
all of its allocated vouchers to assist an average of 9,619
households each month, and issued 671 vouchers to applicants
on the waiting list to replace families that terminated
from the program.
• The voucher supply remains limited because housing
authorities have not had the opportunity to apply to the federal
government for additional housing vouchers since 2003.
Federal law requires public school districts to report the number
of students living in shelters or unsheltered in cars, parks or
campgrounds, as well as in motels or with another family due to
economic hardship:
• In 2007/08, 17,051 Orange County students (mostly in
grades K-12) were identified as living in one of these unstable
housing conditions.1 This is a 30% increase over the past
• Families living doubled- or tripled-up in a home due to economic
hardship are the largest cohort with 15,817 students
living in these conditions.
• Additionally, 789 students live in motels, 385 live in shelters,
and 60 live unsheltered in cars, parks or campgrounds.

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