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How Much is Enough in San Francisco County?

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Families are Struggling

In order to develop effective public policy that supports working families – policymakers, advocates, and service providers need an accurate measurement of what it takes to make ends meet in today’s economy. The Family Economic Self-Sufficiency Standard (Self-Sufficiency Standard) for California provides that benchmark. The Self-Sufficiency Standard calculates the income needed by working families to meet their basic needs in every county in California and for 156 family types. The Self-Sufficiency Standard provides county-specific costs for housing, food, and health care, as well as costs associated with work including transportation, child care, and taxes. The Self-Sufficiency Standard is a more accurate calculation of income adequacy than other measures of economic well-being, such as the Federal Poverty Level (FPL). 

How much is enough in San Francisco County? The graph below shows that the FPL, which is commonly used to determine eligibility for public support programs, is not enough. Neither is the average CalWORKs with food stamps benefit, which is even less than the FPL. And in fact, to meet the most basic expenses for a family of three in San Francisco County, you would need to work more than two full-time minimum wage jobs!

  • To view detailed tables of the Self-Sufficiency Standard for individuals and families in San Francisco County, click here.
  • To view the methodology for the Self-Sufficiency Standard, click here.
San Francisco County 2008

  • Food costs have gone up 15%.
  • Health care costs have climbed significantly, up 30%.
  • Although housing costs have decreased by 19% since 2003, the rise in other costs has caused the Self-Sufficiency Standard to remain high at $57,658 a year for a family consisting of one adult, a preschooler and a school-age child.


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