How Government Policy Worsens Poverty in California

The state and local governments are hurting the poor through policies and this has impacted California’s high poverty rate.

The Census Bureau calculates that California has the nation’s highest poverty rate due to its high living costs. Over a third of California’s nearly 40 million residents are poor or near-poor, according to the Public Policy Institute of California, Calmatters report.

California’s politicians talk a lot about poverty conundrums and are always promoting solutions to make sure poor families have a little more money. Yet, at the same time, the struggles of the poor in California are exacerbated by state and local government practices.

Due to land zoning restrictions, arbitrary construction standards, and crushing fees, building affordable housing for low- and moderate-income families is nearly impossible, and the scarcity of such housing drives up the rent.

Poor Californians struggle to lift themselves out of poverty because of overly complex state and local regulations.

Children from disadvantaged backgrounds are notoriously undereducated in California’s public schools. Although, schools were given billions of dollars extra to close what’s known as the achievement gap, but local officials diverted most of the funds for other purposes. The school closures caused by COVID-19 further widened the gap even further.

A coalition called Debt Free Justice California released a report on how extremely high civil assessments, including those tacked onto traffic offenses, create a vicious cycle for people who can’t afford them. In the event that these assessments are not paid, additional fines and fees follow, sometimes resulting in the suspension of a driver’s license, thereby making it impossible for people to travel to and from work.

Read More: Housing advocates are looking for money to repeal California’s law.

It is very common to tack on civil assessments to fines to raise funds for programs and projects without raising taxes that might cause political backlash. Former Gov. In his veto message, Jerry Brown called this bill a regressive increase that would substantially harm the poor.

After a year, Brown called for an amnesty, naming the state’s traffic court system a “hellhole of desperation” for the poor that had resulted in millions of license suspensions.

Another news article came out of Oakland, a city whose left-wing politicians constantly talk about caring for the poor.

A year ago, a community organization called Poor Magazine built a four-unit housing project where the very poor can live rent-free, but the city has kept pressing the group for minor changes.

“It’s taken months and tens of thousands of dollars to address the city’s seemingly never-ending list of requirements, from adding three parking spaces Poor Magazine says residents likely won’t use, to painting the vents on the roof,” the Bay Area News Group reported.

“In addition, the nonprofit now is on the hook for another $40,000 in fees.”

In many parts of the state, fees and arcane requirements impede the construction of much-needed housing. The decision is more egregious than you might think due to the fact that it will prevent some desperately poor families from having a roof over their heads.

“First, not harm” is an age-old medical principle. California politicians should stop harming the poor before helping them.

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