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Though the Bay Area has some of the nation’s wealthiest communities, it’s also home to dozens of high-poverty neighborhoods that have been hit hard by rising housing costs.
With two exceptions, the region’s 10 poorest neighborhoods all are in the East Bay. On average, nearly 52 percent of residents in these neighborhoods earned less than 200 percent of the poverty threshold, the measure we chose as the basis for our analysis to account for the region’s high cost of living. For a family of four, that was $50,188 in 2017, the most recent data available by ZIP code.
By comparison, just 21 percent of residents in the nine-county Bay Area and Santa Cruz fall below that mark.
Oakland has the largest share of the Bay Area’s 10 poorest neighborhoods, with six ZIP codes on the list. Richmond has one. The areas surrounding Watsonville’s Municipal Airport and San Jose’s 95110 ZIP code encompassing Guadalupe River Park and that city’s airport are the only ones on the list that aren’t in the East Bay.
At the top of the list is Berkeley’s 94704, which surrounds U.C. Berkeley on its western and southern side. There, more than 67 percent of residents live below 200 percent of the poverty level, largely due to the high population of students.
In these poorest 10 ZIP codes, housing costs increased more than they did in the rest of the Bay Area. Between 2012 and fall of 2019, median mortgage payments increased on average nearly 56 percent among all Bay Area ZIP codes. But among the 10 highest poverty ZIP codes, they rose 105 percent.
The full Price We Pay series on the Bay Area’s housing crisis is available to subscribers here. Not a subscriber? For a special offer that includes unlimited access to the series and our websites, click here for The Mercury News or here for the East Bay Times.