The Issues

Low Education Levels Mean Low Income Levels

The 2010 year-to-date data indicate that those citizens who have low education levels and are poor continue to be hit the hardest in these tough economic times.  With unemployment hovering around 10% nationally, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the unemployment rate for people with less than a high school diploma was 14% in August, 2010 compared to just 4.6% for those workers with a bachelor’s degree or higher[1].  Additionally, as unemployment rises, the number of households without health insurance also goes up.  The majority of those who are uninsured have a household income under $25,000, represent 26.6% of the U.S. population[2] and are the ones most at-risk for homelessness. In Lake County, the 2000 Census data showed 21,219 adults over the age of 25 did not have a high school diploma or its equivalent and 20.5% of households reported incomes under $25,000[3].  We must find cost effective ways to help those at-risk today and prevent more from joining their ranks.

Living Wage Jobs and Affordable Housing

 Across the U.S. most Continuum organizations have found that two of the primary root causes of homelessness require even broader local support to address them successfully.  Those root causes are:

  • A lack of jobs that pay a living wage
  • A lack of affordable housing

According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition’s April, 2010 report, nationally the average household  hourly wage for renters dropped from $14.69 in 2009 to $14.22 in 2010.    Lake County’s low income residents face harsh realities. Here the estimated household hourly wage for renters is $11.60 which means the average renting household would have to work 49 hours each and every week just to pay for the typical two-bedroom rental. In Lake County, 39% of our renting households are unable to afford the fair market rent for this type of unit.   For those earning the U.S. minimum wage of $7.30, the average renting household here would have to work 77 hours each week just to pay for a two-bedroom rental[4].

Our county has several groups who are working on these two issues.  The Coalition for Housing and Support Services of Lake County, Inc. focuses its efforts on increasing the supply of affordable housing and works with various agencies and non-profit organizations for which housing is their primary mission.  While there is no single organization coordinating the work to bring more living wage jobs to our county, local municipalities’ business development departments, Department of Jobs and Family Services, the Building Trades Councils, Chambers of Commerce and other organizations are doing their best to address this need.  

[4] National Low Income Housing Coalition, Out of Reach 2010 Report,


[1] U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, Table A-4 Employment status of the civilian population 25 years and over by educational attainment, August, 2010; a copy is available in the appendix of the Plan.

[2] Kaiser Health News, Census Bureau: Recession Fuels Record Number of Uninsured Americans, updated September, 2010;

[3] Ohio Department of Development Lake County Profile Report based on Census 2000 data.  A copy is available in the appendix of the Plan