Underlying Factor 1: Underlying Poverty & Economic Inequality

In most of the school districts in this study where Black students and their families live and attend schools, the overwhelming majority are significantly impacted by poverty and housing instability. For example, in 10 out of 14 school districts where Black students attend school and their surrounding neighborhoods, more than 40% of these families live two times below the federal poverty line (see Figure 1.1).

Figure 1.1
FIGURE 1.1 Percent of Population Living Below Two Times the Federal Poverty Level by District, 2017
The US Census Bureau’s American Community Survey maintains information on the rate of poverty in different areas in California. The indicator is the percent of the population with incomes less than two times the federal poverty level. The data are from the years 2011-2015.

The effects of poverty are also reflected in the proportion of families negatively impacted by housing insecurity. For example, a majority of the 14 school districts have more than 40% of families who are classified as low income who are also significantly impacted and burdened with housing instability (see Figure 1.2).

FIGURE 1.2 Percent Housing Burdened Low-Income Households by District, 2017
Data from the Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Comprehensive Housing Affordability Strategy (CHAS) is used for the indicator. CHAS data is a special analysis of US Census Bureau data. The indicator is the percent of households in a census tract that are both low income (making less than 80% of their county’s median family income) and severely burdened by housing costs (paying greater than 50% of their income for housing costs).

The economic challenges encountered by a large number of Black families across Los Angeles County begin to explain how concentrated poverty shapes the lived experiences of Black families outside of school, speaking to the holistic support needed to address the academic disparities documented in this report. The economic burdens faced by many families has resulted in significant mobility across and out of Los Angeles County as many have searched for more economically viable living situations. Perhaps no other group has been more acutely affected by this reality than Black families as noted by the data in the following section on declining and shifting enrollment across Los Angeles County (see Figure 1.3).