.NUZ: Disturbing News for Central Coast Single Moms

Santa Cruz County is officially one of the hardest places in the country to be a single mom, according to a new analysis of federal income, education and housing data.

The Santa Cruz-Watsonville metro area ranked No. 1 on the list of the toughest cities for single mothers from financial news site 24/7 Wall St. That’s in large part because it’s “practically impossible,” the report notes, for those who earn the area’s median $31,000-a-year income for households headed by a single mom to pay the going $2,400 a month for a two-bedroom apartment on the Central Coast.

Women earning that local median wage would have to work more than 181 hours per week—spoiler: there literally aren’t that many hours in a week—to avoid draining more than 30% of their incomes on rent (a common threshold for “affordable” housing, leaving money for health care, food and other necessities). 

Beyond that daunting math, the report factored in access to early-childhood education, public transit and local poverty rates. For those keeping score, Santa Cruz also has the state’s No. 2-highest overall poverty rate when adjusting for housing costs. 

While California does generally offer higher wages and better access to health care than other states, the report notes that expensive regions like New York City offset some costs for families with programs like universal kindergarten and affordable (if not exactly kid-friendly) mass transit.

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Still, misery loves company, and Santa Cruz is by no means alone when it comes to California cities inhospitable to working class families. Also on the list for the toughest cities for single moms were Madera (No. 3), Salinas (No. 4), Visalia (No. 5), Hanford (No. 8), and Bakersfield (No. 9).

The housing crisis isn’t going anywhere soon, but Gov. Gavin Newsom has singled out universal preschool and statewide full-day kindergarten as two education priorities. In the meantime, here’s to an equally happy back-to-school season for all local families.


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