A family of four with an annual income of $84,450 or less now qualifies as low income in Orange County.
A single person living alone qualifies as low income if he or she earns $58,450 or less a year.
Orange County has the fifth-highest income threshold in the nation, according to new income limits released last month by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Government and private agencies use HUD’s income calculations to determine eligibility for a wide variety of assistance programs, ranging from rent subsidy vouchers and public housing to mortgage assistance. While low-income families qualify for some programs, others are limited to households earning far less, with limits as low as $31,300 for a family of four.
Record-high rents and home prices are driving up Southern California income limits. Orange County apartment rents, for example, increased 20 percent over the past seven years, while the median sale price of an Orange County house has jumped 40 percent.
“When you tell somebody that’s making $70,000 that they’re low income, they go, ‘What? That’s low income?’ Unfortunately, that’s what comes from living in a high-cost county,” said Cesar Covarrubias, executive director of the Kennedy Commission, an Irvine-based affordable housing advocacy group. “That makes it difficult for working families at all levels.”
Under the 2017 figures, Orange County’s income threshold for a family of four jumped $5,450 from last year’s level. The only metro areas with higher income limits are San Francisco; Fairfield County, Connecticut; Silicon Valley and Honolulu.
Even a six-figure salary doesn’t cut the mustard in San Francisco, Marin and San Mateo counties. A family of four there earning $105,350 or less now is considered low income, HUD figures show.