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Looks like sunny California isn’t as sunny as it seems. New research conducted by UCLA Center for Health Policy Research found that 47% of California residents aged 65 and older are unable to pay for basic needs. The Mercury News reports:

The new data reveal far deeper poverty rates among seniors than was previously known. According to the decades-old standard of measuring poverty, only 9 to 10 percent of California seniors were considered poor, that is, earning less than $10,000 a year. Researchers note that amount is peanuts in high-cost California, failing to reflect the true cost of survival.
“For us, what’s striking is that these numbers are not even taking into account the latest economic crisis,” said co-author Susie Smith, a program director at the nonprofit Insight Center for Community Economic Development. She noted the report used 2007 census data. “We can only imagine when we update this information next year, what the numbers are going to look like.”

While Obama’s stimulus will provide temporary relief to SSI recipients who are blind, elderly or disabled, stronger initiatives needs to be taken in-state to track poverty rates among older people so appropriate local action can be taken. Assemblyman Jim Beall, D-San Jose, has introduced a new bill, the Elder Economic Dignity Act of 2009, which calls for California to track seniors in poverty, but by using new measurements. Believe it or not, officials currently use a 50-year old federal measure to decide who is above or below poverty.
“There are a lot of hungry seniors, a lot of seniors who have suffered economically over the last decade,” said Beall, “So to use a measurement that goes back to the 1950s is clearly not appropriate.”
Can’t get much clearer than that! Sheesh. Let’s cross our fingers that this bill gets picked up.

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