Family Homelessness in OC

The Hidden Orange County

One of the fastest growing segments of the homeless population is working families with children struggling to make ends meet.

The high cost of basic living, including rent, transportation and childcare, coupled with the significant lack of affordable housing, puts many families at risk.


Hours worked each week by a minimum wage earner in order to afford a two-bedroom apartment in Orange County



The number of low-income renters in Orange County that do not have access to affordable housing



Percentage of Orange County’s children are living in poverty according to the U.S. Census Bureau


Lack of Affordable Housing

There is a significant lack of affordable housing in Orange County, making affording an apartment extremely difficult for families struggling to make ends meet. As stated in the California Housing Partnership Emergency Housing Report in May 2019, Orange County needs approximately 111,996 more units of affordable housing to keep up with the current need.

Additionally, the hourly wage needed to afford a median-priced one-bedroom unit in Orange County was $34.33, equivalent to an annual income of $71,406. In comparison, a minimum wage earner would have to work 106 hours per week to afford a one-bedroom apartment. This hourly rate has increased by a staggering 39% in the past five years.

Families earning less than the median income in Orange County are spending at least 78% of their income on rent, leaving 22% or less for all other living expenses. This challenging ratio of income to living expense leaves many families on the cusp of – and vulnerable to – homelessness. In addition, many families do not have any safety-net resources such as savings or local family to support them through a challenging time.

Our Mission

To prevent and end family homelessness by providing access to housing and resources that create lasting stability.

Our Vision

We see an Orange County where every family has a home and the opportunity to thrive.

Make a Lasting Impact on Local Families in Need

Families Forward is a nonprofit agency that depends upon the support of the community to provide homeless families or families at risk of homelessness with tools and education to maintain self-sufficiency. The primary goal is to move families in crisis to stability.

All donations remain in our community to help local families. We are proud to report that 90% of donations go directly to support programs and services.

High Cost of Living

Due to the high cost of basic living needs in Orange County, including rent, transportation and childcare, families can lose their housing with any slight unforeseen expense or disruption. This challenging ratio of income to living expense leaves many families on the cusp and vulnerable to homelessness. As reported in the Orange County 2020 Community Indicators report, 36% of the homeless sheltered population living in Orange County are adults with children.

Many families do not have any safety-net resources such as savings or local family to support them through a challenging time. A job loss, sudden illness or rent increase can often push the family beyond their financial limits and result in them losing their home. This is the case for the vast majority of literally homeless families who come to Families Forward for assistance.

Poverty and Hunger

According to the 2021 Annual Report on the Conditions of Children in Orange County, 48.8% of students, or 231,160 individuals, in 2019/2020 qualified for free and reduced price meals in Orange County. This number is widely viewed as a proxy for the number of children at or near the poverty line and indicates a rising level of need for safety net services in O.C. Our food pantry is one of our many basic safety net services provided that allows families to focus on their journey towards self-sufficiency.

OC Cost of Homelessness Report

Families Forward is proud to be a contributor to important research that dispels many of the myths of the homeless in our neighborhoods. We encourage you to read more about the OC Homeless Cost Study and Report.

Last updated: 11/17/2020