Discover the 5 Poorest Neighborhoods in San Diego, California

San Diego is a captivating and diverse city, but like any other, it faces challenges with poverty and adversity in certain neighborhoods. As of fall 2021, the California Poverty Measure (CPM), which considers the cost of living and safety net benefits, identifies the following five areas as the poorest neighborhoods in San Diego.

West Fresno:

This area can be found in the eastern region of San Diego, close to the Mexican border. It holds the highest poverty rate in the city, with a CPM rate of 36.4%. West Fresno is mainly inhabited by Latino residents, and unfortunately, it faces challenges like limited educational opportunities, high unemployment, and crime rates.

The median household income in West Fresno is $25,495, which is less than half of the state’s median income of $75,235. Additionally, the neighborhood is burdened with environmental problems, including air pollution, water contamination, and a lack of green spaces.

South Los Angeles:

This district is situated in the southern area of San Diego, close to San Diego Bay. It holds a poverty rate of 28.7%, which is the second-highest in the city1. South Los Angeles accommodates a diverse and sizable population, including Latinos, African Americans, Asians, and Pacific Islanders.

However, the community faces numerous challenges, such as gang violence, drug abuse, homelessness, and food insecurity3. The median household income in South Los Angeles is $36,687, significantly below the state median3. Moreover, the neighborhood experiences low rates of homeownership and limited access to quality education and healthcare services.


Normal Heights:

Normal Heights, situated in the central part of San Diego and north of Balboa Park, has a CPM poverty rate of 24.6%, ranking it as the third-highest in the city. It is a mixed-income neighborhood experiencing both gentrification and areas of decline.

The median household income in Normal Heights is $47,061, which is below the state median. Additionally, the neighborhood faces challenges related to traffic congestion, noise pollution, and insufficient parking spaces.

Kearny Mesa:

Kearny Mesa is a neighborhood situated in the northern part of San Diego, to the east of Interstate 805. It has a significant poverty rate, with 23.9% living below the poverty line, making it the fourth-highest in the city. This area is primarily known for its commercial and industrial presence, hosting numerous businesses and warehouses.

The median household income in Kearny Mesa is $49,536, which is below the state median, indicating lower average earnings in the neighborhood. Unfortunately, Kearny Mesa faces several challenges, including issues with air quality, urban sprawl, and a lack of adequate public transportation options.


Midtown District:

This locality lies in the western region of San Diego, situated to the south of Mission Valley. It possesses a CPM (Community Poverty Measure) poverty rate of 22.8%, ranking as the fifth-highest within the city. Midtown District holds historical and cultural significance, boasting numerous attractions and landmarks.

The median household income in this area amounts to $51,788, which is below the state’s median income. However, the neighborhood grapples with various difficulties, including expensive housing, homelessness, and gentrification.


Here are 5 Poorest Neighborhoods in San Diego, California, but it’s important to note that many other areas in the city also grapple with poverty. These neighborhoods predominantly house low-income families, immigrants, and individuals belonging to diverse racial backgrounds. Unfortunately, they are also burdened with high crime rates and low levels of educational attainment.

Several factors contribute to the prevalence of poverty in San Diego. Among them are the exorbitant cost of living, a lack of affordable housing options, and limited job prospects. Additionally, the city is experiencing a mounting homelessness crisis.


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To tackle the issue of poverty in San Diego, numerous organizations are actively engaged in providing essential services. These include job training, housing assistance, and educational programs. Their efforts are geared towards creating a more equitable and just city for all of its residents.

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