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San Francisco Distress Index

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  • 1. San Francisco Distress Index
    • A Real Measure of Recession and Recovery for Our Communities
  • 2. The Problem
    • No “up-to-the minute” indicator of how people are faring in the recession (and recovery)
    • Poverty of Poverty Statistics
    • Inadequacy of Unemployment Numbers
  • 3. Goals
    • To show when (if?) the economic recovery takes hold in San Francisco, or if people continue to be left behind
    • To capture “real-time” dynamics of hardship and economic distress in the City
    • To provide an engine for covering the poor and near poor in the ethnic media
    • To bring ethnic media and mainstream media together to cover and discuss poverty in the City
  • 4. Our Indicators
    • Must be reported regularly
    • Must not have “white noise”
    • Must collectively represent the key aspects of living: food, shelter, work, etc.
  • 5. Indicators
    • CalWORKs Enrollment : CalWORKs is California’s temporary financial assistance and employment services program for low-income families with minor children. CalWORKS offers cash assistance, as well as assistance with finding and paying for childcare services. We used total enrollment[i] in the program in San Francisco.
    • CalWORKs Homeless Assistance Requests : CalWORKs also maintains a special program for homeless families and families at risk of homelessness to help meet their housing costs. Program benefits and services include temporary shelter payments, permanent housing payments, moving assistance, and rental subsidy. We use the total number of applications for homeless assistance in San Francisco.
    • Bankruptcies : We use a count of all bankruptcies filed in San Francisco, which are provided by the United States Bankruptcy Court, Northern District of California. The total count includes both personal and business bankruptcy filed under Chapters 7, 11 and 13.
    • Food Stamps Applications : We use counts of all applications filed by individuals and families for food stamps in San Francisco, from monthly data published by the California Department of Social Services.
  • 6. Indicators (cont)
    • Food Pantry Visits : We use counts of the number of households receiving weekly food distributions through the San Francisco Food Bank’s neighbourhood pantry network. The total cumulative monthly household numbers are a sum of weekly data on the number of households served that individual pantries submit to the San Francisco Food Bank.
    • MediCal Medically Needy Enrollment : MediCal Medically Needy program is for individuals and families who are deprived but whose incomes are too high to qualify for cash assistance or who do not wish to receive cash assistance (under CalWORKs). Program beneficiaries include deprived children up to age 21, pregnant women, parents/caretakers of deprived eligible children and aged, blind and disabled. Because general MediCal enrollment is largely redundant with CalWORKs enrollment, medically needy MediCal participation was used to capture distress above and beyond CalWORKs participation.
  • 7. Indicators (cont)
    • Healthy San Francisco Enrollment : Healthy San Francisco is a program initiated by the city of San Francisco in 2008 to provide health services to all San Franciscan residents lacking health insurance whose incomes fall below 500% of the Federal Poverty Level (for one person $54,150; for a family of four $110,250). We use total enrollment in the program, as provided by the program administrator.
    • Foreclosures : We use the number of home foreclosures filed monthly in San Francisco, as provided by DataQuick Real Estate Services.
  • 8. Indicators (cont)
    • Unemployment : We use the total number of unemployed persons in San Francisco, as provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). These numbers include all jobless persons who are available to take a job and have actively sought work in the past four weeks.
    • Unemployment Insurance (UI) Recipients : We use the total number of UI claimnants inSan Francisco, as provided by the CA Employment Development Department. These figures represent the number of claimants actively seeking benefits and does not necessarily mean that the claimant received benefits.
    • CAAP Participation : The County Adult Assistance Program (CAAP) is the San Francisco program serving very low income adults in San Francisco without dependents. It consists of four programs that provide employment services, supplemental security income, cash assistance linked to MediCal, and general assistance. We use total CAAP enrollment as provided by the San Francisco Human Services Agency.
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  • 16. Conclusions
    • Economic distress has nearly doubled in SF since the start of the Great Recession
    • Distress shows little to any signs of abating in recent months
    • Levels of distress are 40% worse in the current recession than they were during the dot-com bust.

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