By Shaun Boyd
DENVER (CBS4)- A new report confirms what most of us already know — it costs a lot of money to live in Colorado. The Colorado Center on Law and Policy commissioned the report that examines the amount of income needed to meet basic needs: food, health care, housing and transportation.
The so-called “self-sufficiency standard” varies widely by family size and county. A family of four in Arapahoe County needs more than $75,000 to get by. In Boulder County, the same family needs more than $85,000, and in Denver, that family needs $72,000.
The report finds one in four households in Colorado — excluding the elderly and disabled — needs some form of public assistance to make ends meet. Luz Galicia is among them.
She works three jobs, seven days a week, sometimes 16 hours a day to support herself, her daughter and three-month-old grandson. And still, it is not enough to make ends meet.
“I’m a hard worker. Never asked for anything. I always work,” she said.
But when she lost her job of 27 years in May, even with three part-time jobs paying just above minimum wage, she qualifies for Medicaid.
“You cannot make it with the minimum wage.”
Bob Mook with the Colorado Center on Law and Policy says no family, in any part of the state, can be self-sufficient making the minimum wage of $10.20 an hour.
“Quite simply put, wages aren’t keeping up with the cost of living here in Colorado. We’re getting up there with California and other states where the cost of living is really not sustainable.”
Most of those who fall below the self-sufficiency standard like Galicia are working full-time or several part-time jobs.
“I wish the politicians can come and spend one day with me… I wish they could come and see how hard we have to work.”
An interactive map on The Self-Sufficiency Standard for Colorado report calculates the self-sufficiency standard for different family sizes and different counties.
The Center on Law and Policy hopes the report will spur the state legislature to pass new laws to help those with inadequate incomes, including allowing cities to set their own minimum wage consistent with their cost of living.