Survey: Latino families in Mission struggle, many earn below poverty level

File photo: Walking to school with mom

A survey of 584 households with children in the Mission District and surrounding area shows that while the city overall enjoys low unemployment rates and high incomes, local Latino families experience a starkly different economy.

Nearly all of the respondents were Latino and the majority of them were women. Most – 77 percent of the 447 who answered the household income question –  reported earning less than $35,000 a year, and nearly all spend more than half their income on rent.

Some 30 percent live below the federal poverty line of $24,600 a year for a family of four.

Two in five families in the survey reported not being able to pay for housing, food, or medical care at some point in the past year.

Despite their circumstances, most of the survey respondents also spoke highly of the Mission District, naming it their favorite place to do grocery shopping, go to the library, receive medical care, and manage their finances.

“Surveyed households believed that the Mission is a place where they feel at home because of its vibrant Latino culture,” the report notes.

The study of 584 families were respondents to a survey conducted for the Mission Promise Neighborhood, a multi-organization program to improve safety and quality of life for Latino residents of the Mission District and surrounding areas, specifically those with children under 24. It is being led by the Mission Economic Development Agency.

Some 14 percent of those surveyed were unemployed or looking for work, with four percent completely without compensated work. Overall that would reflect more than four times the citywide unemployment rate of 3.4 percent, though the survey considered part-time workers looking for work unemployed and the citywide statistic considers anyone who did any work at all employed.

Some 21 percent of the respondents said they held more than one job to make ends meet.

Even though improvements have been made over the last two years, according to the study, Latinos live a far different life than most Mission residents.

The median income in the Mission has jumped to $96,000 a year compared to $92,000 a year for San Francisco, according to city data. Some 15.1 percent of Mission households overall live below the poverty level, compared to 12.3 percent citywide.

Still, the households surveyed by Mission Promise Neighborhood were faring better than they had two years ago when unemployment among those polled stood at 20 percent while the citywide rate was at 4.4 percent.

The portion of respondents who have no bank account dropped from to 31 percent from 40 percent two years ago. The proportion of families who reported having gone without food in the past year dropped to 37 percent from close to half of families surveyed two years  ago.

“Food insecurity has been replaced by housing-payment insecurity,” the report notes.

Among the parents representing 584 different families surveyed, individual respondents were 90 percent Latino and 86 percent female.

Just over 91 percent of the adults in the survey reported having health insurance, but more than a third said they use the hospital emergency room or outpatient departments when they need care.  That compares with a national average of just three percent who use emergency and outpatient services.

Despite their circumstances, parents in the survey remain deeply engaged in the education of their children. Even if most cannot give money, materials or goods to their child’s school, 81 percent of respondents whose child was in grade school had attended a parent advisory or council meeting in the last year, and the same portion had been contacted by a teacher to discuss their child’s progress.

Children also read more frequently in the 2016 survey than they had two years prior. In 2014, 60 percent were reported to have read daily. By 2016, that proportion had jumped to 84 percent.

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2 Comments

  1. John Thompson

    “Just over 91 percent of the adults in the survey reported having health insurance, but more than a third said they use the hospital emergency room or outpatient departments when they need care. That compares with a national average of just three percent who use emergency and outpatient services.”

    This is the problem with health care in our country. This segment of the population is more likely to have health insurance than the rest of the U.S. population, but 10 times more likely to use the emergency room. Even with insurance, usuing the emergency room costs the patient a ton of money. This is a big reason why many of these folks are struggling with paying their bills.

    If you want to help save Mission latino families some money, educate them on when to use the emergency room and when to use Urgent care and regular doctor offices. This could save each of these families thousands of dollars. THey have access to doctors, but stil choose to use the emergency room and get stuck with and average bill of $2600. The average at a doctors office is about $300.

    Just think, of this particular population(584 families) 33 percent use emergency rooms(193 families) yet the national average is 3%(18 families). That means, if we can get the emergency room average to the national average, we cold save 175 latino families in the mission over $2000/year. Obviously these are rough estimates and numbers, but there are real dollars to be saved for struggling latino families in our backyard with some simple education.

  2. Chris Sro

    Does this survey figure in their legal working status? I would imagine that would substantially affect the effective income and unemployment levels.

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