37 Percent Of Contra Costa Households Face Financial Ruin

Bea Karnes

CONTRA COSTA COUNTY, CA — When the coronavirus pandemic hit, millions of California households were one emergency away from financial ruin — setting the stage for the unprecedented economic impact of the crisis. Here in Contra Costa County, just under 145,000 households fit the profile.

That's according to the latest ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) Report.

ALICE Reports provide county-by-county data and analysis of how many households are struggling, including the obstacles ALICE households face on the road to financial independence.

The hardest hit counties are in the far northern and southern parts of the state and the Central Valley. Bay Area counties, including Contra Costa, fare much better. Here in Contra Costa County, 9 percent of the 390,000 households live in poverty. Another 28 percent fall below ALICE.

As the cost of housing, child care and other essentials rose over recent years, low-income families systematically lost buying power and financial stability, said the report.

"No matter how hard ALICE families worked, the gap between their wages and the cost of basics just kept widening," said Jessica Muroff, speaking on behalf of the United Way. "These already-fragile ALICE households are now facing an even deeper financial hole due to the state of emergency created by COVID-19."

Since the closure of restaurants and stores, struggling families have sought protection from eviction, food donations, and relief from other bills.

Statistically, Contra Costa County as a whole is among the best performing counties in California. Santa Clara and Placer counties have the highest percentage of households above the ALICE threshold, at 67 percent, while Contra Costa is 63 percent.

Households above the ALICE Threshold:

  • Alameda County: 64 percent
  • Contra Costa County: 63 percent
  • Marin County: 64 percent
  • Monterey County: 48 percent
  • Napa County: 60 percent
  • San Francisco County: 63 percent
  • San Mateo County: 65 percent
  • Santa Clara County: 67 percent
  • Santa Cruz County: 58 percent
  • Solano County: 62 percent
  • Sonoma County: 62 percent

The hardest hit counties are Imperial County on the Mexican border with just 36 percent of households over the ALICE threshold and Del Norte, on the Oregon border, with 42 percent.

— Patch editors D'Ann Lawrence White and Bea Karnes contributed to this story


This article originally appeared on the Walnut Creek Patch