What Is Considered Low Income in California?

If your income is low enough, you may qualify for social assistance program in California. California doesn't have a single definition of what's considered low income. Instead, income limitations vary based on the program you're applying for, the county you reside in, and the number of people in your household.

Low Income for Affordable Housing Programs

Counties in California offer affordable rental housing at different rates to residents at certain income levels. The state bases its affordable housing income limits on federal income limit guidelines, and makes regional cost of living adjustments. California provides a comprehensive chart of extremely low, very low, low, median and moderate income limits for 2015 by county. If your income doesn't exceed the moderate income limit where you live, you may qualify for subsidized rental housing.

To find out if you're considered low income for affordable housing purposes, navigate to the county you reside in, find the row labeled Low Income and match the column with the number of people in your household. The number in the intersecting row and column is the maximum income you can have and be considered low income.


As an example, if you live in Sonoma County and there are two people in your household, an annual income between $45,500 and $52,000 annually would be considered low income.

Low Income for CalFresh Assistance

For other assistance programs in California, eligibility is determined by Federal Poverty Level. For example, the maximum income you can have to receive CalFresh food benefits is 200 percent of the current Federal Poverty Level. To determine if your income is currently below that threshold, match your household size with the gross monthly income limits in this chart. For example, if there are two people in your household, you can't qualify for CalFresh if your gross monthly income exceeds $2,622.

Low Income for CalWORKS Assistance

CalWORKS is California's version of Federal Temporary Assistance to Needy Families -- TANF for short. If you qualify, you can receive cash benefits on top of any benefits you receive from other assistance programs. To have a low enough income to qualify for CalWORKS, your income can't exceed the Minimum Basic Standards of Adequate Care. As with affordable housing income guidelines, limits vary based on where you live.

To check the low income guidelines for CalWORKS, visit the CalWORKS assistance page for your county. Contact the agency by phone or look under the frequently asked questions section for income limits. For example, the CalWORKS information page for Stanislaus County indicates that the maximum income a family of two can have and qualify for CalWORKS is $870 per month.