There are many factors at play when it comes to choosing a home. Economic opportunities, affordable housing and low crime rates rank high on the demand. Realistically, not every city can provide these needs. 

Based on U.S. Census Data, 50 cities were ranked the “most miserable” to live in a recent study. The percentage of people who moved from their cities, the unemployment rate, average household incomes, individuals with healthcare, average commute-to-work times and homelessness were all taken into consideration when creating the list. 

Of the 50 cities listed, 10 were in the Golden State – making it the state with the most miserable cities: Lancaster, Hemet, San Bernardino, Compton, Montebello, Palmdale, El Monte, Lynwood, Bell Gardens and Huntington Park.

Crime and poverty were commonalities in these cities. Although the crime has decreased since the 90s, 40% of Compton’s 96,000 population are unemployed. In Bell Gardens, nearly 30% of its 42,300 residents are impoverished. Considered overpopulated, according to a city official cited in the study, Bell Gardens depended on a local casino for most of its tax revenue. 

Independent congressional candidate running against Adam Schiff in California’s 28th District, Jennifer Barbosa, believes there needs to be a closer look at how federal funds for affordable housing have been spent in varying communities. Barbosa blames Democrats’ proposed remedy for homelessness legislation that “aims to incentivize property owners to sell to public housing agencies.”

“This is what Congressman Schiff supports and it is the wrong approach,” Barbosa told Scriberr News. “It encourages the demolition of existing affordable, or ‘rent stabilized,’ units. It benefits wealthy investors but is devastating to Californians currently living in those cost effective units because they are displaced.”

High taxes and the rising gas prices continue to be a burden for residents in California. For cities like Montebello and Palmdale, which are on the list, these elements affect them particularly hard with longer commute times. 

“Last month, the national average for a gallon of gas was $2.66, in California it was $4.16,” Barbosa continued. “How do you imagine that affects the people in Montebello and Palmdale who have such long commute times? High taxes suffocate small business development, particularly in struggling cities.” 

Last year, the Sacramento Bee reported that California has the fifth-largest economy in the world, surpassing the U.K., according to data from the U.S. Department of Commerce. 

Many of the cities on the list were also deeply affected by the recession in 2008, resulting in poverty and struggling employment numbers. Major Williams, a 2020 mayoral candidate in Pasadena, believes straightening out California’s city budgets will remedy the unemployment numbers and closing schools.

“Our current leadership has done a great job of masking their lack of responsibility with the city budget by asking residents to tax themselves more so that we may help our school district stay afloat,” Williams told Scriberr News. “Not only was it negligent, but it was also a complete lie, our schools are closing, there is and will not be any adjustment to the budget and we can expect to be taxed again in another three years or so.”

If he wins Pasadena, Williams plans to go over the city budget “with a microscope” and “micromanaging how every single cent is spent” to avoid another raise in taxes. With many upcoming politicians debating over raising the minimum wage to a “livable wage,” many argue this would have a negative impact on small businesses and employment. 

“I believe that simply raising the minimum wage is only a bandaid,” Williams continued. “What we need is a policy in place that again benefits both employers and employees, not just raise the minimum wage so people can afford to stay in their homes, but also create tax breaks for employers who employ residents from within the cities they operate in. So that although there may be a rise in the wages of their employees, they don’t offset what they believe may be a decline in profits through automation.” 

In 2018, California’s state income tax ranged anywhere from one to 12.3% with an additional one percent surcharge on taxable incomes of $1 million or more. The minimum wage is set to increase to $15 an hour by 2022. 

Written ByJamie Joseph

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