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For Immediate Release: Wednesday, November 15, 2023

The 2023 Self-Sufficiency Standard (SSS) report released by Montgomery County’s Community Action Agency shows substantial increases in the cost of living, particularly in housing and childcare costs. The Self-Sufficiency Standard describes how much income families of various sizes and compositions need to earn to live without public or private assistance in specific geographic areas.

The report is a measure of income adequacy based on the costs of basic needs for working families: housing, childcare, food, health care, transportation, miscellaneous items, the cost of taxes and the impact of tax credits. The SSS changes based on the number of people in a household and the ages of the children.

The report shows that a Montgomery County family of four with two adults, one preschooler and one school-age child needed $97,150 to meet expenses in 2019. Four years later, a similar family must earn $122,943. This sized family will spend an average of $1,934 on housing and $2,698 on childcare each month. At the same time, the Federal government's official poverty measure (Federal Poverty Guideline) is $30,000 for the same family, which only covers one-quarter of the cost of its basic needs.

“The Self-Sufficiency Standard illustrates in stark terms, the high cost of living for residents here,” said County Executive Marc Elrich.  “The cost of housing and childcare are basic needs for families and the information in this report illustrates the importance of locally funded housing and childcare supports, as well Federal benefits such as SNAP.”

With local costs continuing to rise, the County supports several programs to help residents enter careers with wages at or above the Self-Sufficiency Standard. These include WorkSource Montgomery’s American Job Center; the Latino Health Initiative’s Welcome Back Center; and Montgomery College’s Educational Opportunity Center. Also available are other grant, scholarship and training/certification programs.

The report illustrates how the SSS is a valuable tool for direct service providers, researchers, policymakers and advocates. The Community Action Board, the governing body for the Community Action Agency and the County’s designated anti-poverty group, references the SSS in its advocacy efforts on behalf of lower-income residents.

“The Self-Sufficiency Standard provides insight into the challenges so many of our neighbors face on a daily basis and the SSS is critical to our board’s advocacy efforts because it justifies the need for increased wages and work supports,” said Jeffrey Johnson, chair of the Community Action Board.

The Center for Women’s Welfare at the University of Washington School of Social Work calculates the self-sufficiency standard for all 50 states.  Montgomery County’s report is available at,  

An interactive Self-Sufficiency Standard calculator for the State of Maryland is available at To learn more about the Self-Sufficiency Standard, visit

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Media Contact:  Mary Anderson, 301-529-7669 or [email protected]




Release ID: 23-503
Media Contact: Mary Anderson 3015297669
Categories: Health