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Being Poor in Beverly Hills, the Most Unequal City in California

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The chasm in Los Angeles between the rich and the poor is one of the biggest in the US, but, in all of California, Beverly Hills is the city (of its size or larger) with the biggest income disparity, reports the LA Times. Breaking down the facts and figures tells only half the story; taking a look at the daily life of some residents in the neighborhood's limited affordable housing gives an effective snapshot of what it's like to be one of the neighborhood's few low-income residents.

-- The average household income in Beverly Hills is $193,000, but when you look at the high and low ends of the spectrum, you'll find that the richest fifth of Beverly Hills households earn an average of nearly $661,000, while the poorest earn less than $14,500 (that's a factor of 45).
-- One in nine households in Beverly Hills are classified as "extremely low income," meaning they have single people making less than $17,950 or two wage-earners making less than $20,050.
-- Who are these literally poor people living in the famously moneyed enclave? About 40 percent are senior citizens, some transplanted from other places, but very often "longtime Beverly Hills denizens who suffered catastrophic health problems or failed to save adequately for retirement."
-- For those seniors, there is one subsidized housing apartment complex in town. Residents have to be over 62 and make less than $29,000 (for single-person households), but the wait can be long for one of the 151 units. On scoring an apartment in the complex: "I struggle between 'This shouldn't be happening to me' and being very grateful ... Even though this is not the Taj Mahal, and it's as big as a button, you tell me how else I could afford to live in Beverly Hills."
-- Being a Bev Hills resident offers some obvious benefits—a short wait for fire and police departments, never having security concerns, plenty of markets and pharmacies nearby—but they aren't always pluses: Those who can't afford to shop at the Whole Foods underneath that subsidized complex have to travel to get groceries elsewhere.
-- Another disadvantage of being broke in Beverly Hills? You have to deal with presumptuous gold-diggers just like the rich folk do. Says one affordable housing resident: "'I told one guy from Long Beach, 'I live in Beverly Hills, but it's the only HUD building in Beverly Hills ... He said thanks — and hung up!'"
· Low on income but living in Beverly Hills [LAT]