Orange County Becomes Most Expensive County in Southern California for Low-Income Households

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The California Department of Housing and Community Development has recently released updated income limits for various counties, indicating an increase in most areas. These limits, determined annually using federal guidelines, play a crucial role in assessing eligibility for affordable housing programs.

Orange County
Orange County ( Photo: Zocalo Public Square )

In Orange County, the income threshold for a single-person household to be classified as low-income has risen to $80,000 per year, up from just under $76,000 in the previous year

Consequently, Orange County now holds the distinction of being the most expensive county for low-income individuals among the Southern California counties. Comparatively, Ventura County sets the limit at a little over $74,000, while Los Angeles County’s threshold rests at just under $71,000.

In terms of the Inland Empire counties, the limits remain relatively lower, with an approximate figure of $52,000. Nonetheless, this represents an increase from the previous year’s limits.

Moving northward to the Bay Area, three counties stand out with the highest low-income limits statewide. San Francisco County, Marin County, and San Mateo County classify single-person households earning $104,000 annually as low-income.

These limits have remained the same as the previous year

Shifting focus to the Central Valley, counties such as Fresno, Tulare, Kings, and Mariposa exhibit uniform income limits for single-person households, estimated at around $46,000 annually for low-income categorization. These figures reflect an increase of approximately $2,600 from the previous year. It is important to note that income limits also vary according to the number of individuals within a household. For instance, a four-person family in Orange County would be considered low-income until its annual income reaches nearly $115,000.

To summarize the income limits across various California counties and household sizes, refer to the table below. Additionally, the California Department of Housing and Community Development calculates income levels for the “extremely low-income” and “moderate-income” categories.

The income limits are based on the annual income before any payroll deductions, as the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development specified.


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