PRESS RELEASE - The Real Cost Measure 2018



Media Contact: Kristen Dolan

(760) 323-2731

New United Way Poverty Report Finds 62% of Riverside County Households with Children Under Six Struggle with Economic Security

COACHELLA VALLEY– (June 11, 2018) United Way of the Desert is proud to partner with United Ways of California on the release of Struggling to Stay Afloat: The Real Cost Measure in California 2018, our new statewide report on financial challenges for working families.

Unlike the official federal poverty level, which does not accurately account for local costs of living, the Real Cost Measure looks at current costs of a basic needs budget for housing, food, health care, child care, transportation and other basic needs to determine what it truly costs to live in every county in California for households of different compositions (e.g., 2 adults, no children, or 2 adults, 1 infant and 1 school-age child). The results of this extensive study are presented in a data-rich website that enables users to examine each of California’s 58 counties at the neighborhood level, with county profiles and interactive maps. The UWCA URL is, locally you can find information at

"The Real Cost Measure gives us the opportunity to convey the cost of a decent standard of living for different family sizes in the Coachella Valley, and then also point out just how many people are truly struggling,” said Kristal Granados, CEO of United Way of the Desert. “For example, we learned that a family of four would need to hold more than 3 full time, minimum-wage jobs to achieve economic security. With information like this, we can better inform our community and legislators about what needs to be done to break cycles of poverty and struggle throughout the valley.”

Some of the key findings from The Real Cost Measure California 2018 include:

  • More than one in three California households (33%) do not earn sufficient income to meet basic needs
  • Workers: 96% of households below RCM have at least one working adult.
  • Housing Burden: 4 in 10 households in Riverside County (41%) pay more than 30% of their income on housing. Households below the Real Cost Measure report spending from 45% of their income on housing to as much as 79% of their income for households below the federal poverty level.
  • Households of all Ethnicities Struggle, but Rate is Higher for Latino and African Americans: Households of all Ethnicities Struggle, but Rate is Higher for Latino and African Americans: Latino households are more likely to struggle compared to other ethnic groups. Over 1.5 million Latino households are estimated to fall below the Real Cost Measure compared to over 1 million white households, 429,000, Asian American households, and 269,000 African-American households
  • Single Mothers: Over 7 in 10 single mothers in Riverside County (71%) fall below the Real Cost Measure
  • As Educational Increases, rate of Struggling Households Falls: Nearly three-fourths of California householders without a high school diploma or equivalent (71%) fall below the Real Cost Measure compared to those with at least a high school diploma (48%), at least some college education (33%), and at least a bachelor’s degree (15%)
  • 6 in 10 Young Children Live in Struggling Households: 45% of households led by a person born outside the U.S. are below the Real Cost Measure, and that number rises to 63% when the householder is not a citizen. Households led by Latino non-citizens struggle most, especially if the household does not include someone over 14 years of age who speaks English well (82% below the Real Cost Measure).
  • Seniors: Nearly 1 in 3 seniors struggle to meet basic needs (29%) according to the Elder Index, a measure by the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research

To help people visualize the hardships households throughout California face, the Real Cost Measure online resources include interactive maps that reveal the number and percentage of households living below the Real Cost Measure, median household earnings and areas in which housing burden greater than 30 percent of a household's gross income.

The study results also offer county profiles with detailed budgets that reflect minimum annual household needs at the county level. These household budgets, calculated for 2016, include the cost of housing, child care, food, health care, transportation, 10 percent miscellaneous expenses, tax credits and taxes. To learn more about the Real Cost Measure, please visit

About United Way: United Way of the Desert is an independent 501(c) 3 organization that has been serving local residents for over 70 years. Our mission is to break the cycle of poverty in the Coachella Valley through mobilizing the caring power of community. Our Community Impact Fund – a focus on the areas of education, financial stability and health programs - allows us to provide over 150,000 instances of annual support to local residents who need us. Collaborative work with local programs, business partners, and community leaders is what differentiates the United Way of the Desert. We cater to critical needs, while simultaneously building positive and long-lasting community change. For more information: (760) 323-2731 or visit United Way of the Desert is located at: 73710 Fred Waring Dr., Suite 104, Palm Desert, CA 92260. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram - @UWDesert