Community Profile: Mecca

Community profiles provide insight and information to the nine cities and unincorporated places in the Coachella Valley. The profiles provide precise, relevant data at the community level in combination with interactive maps and visualizations to help community members learn about the most important issues facing their communities and to help policy makers make informed decisions for their constituents. Community profiles are updated annually with the latest data, with new profiles released on a regular basis.

Mecca is an unincorporated community in the southeast corner of the Coachella Valley in Riverside County. The largely agricultural desert community sits below sea level on the north shore of the Salton Sea. According to American Community Survey estimates, Mecca is home to approximately 7,174 residents, however, the population fluctuates throughout the year as agricultural workers travel to the community for work during growing seasons. The median household income in Mecca is $23,895 (as of 2018 estimates), much lower than the average of other cities and places in the Coachella Valley ($53,538).
The overwhelming majority of the population in Mecca is Latino (99.9%), and 42% of the Latino residents are below the poverty line. The community has a high number of immigrants (62%) and limited-English speaking households (44%) when compared to other Coachella Valley communities, but a low rate of high school (28%) and college (1%) graduation. 
Explore the visualizations below to learn more about demography, housing, education, environment, health and social connectedness in Mecca and how the community compares to the state, county and other places in the Coachella Valley. 


Mecca has a population of 7,174, however, this number fluctuates throughout the year as agricultural workers travel to the community for work during growing seasons.  The community stretches across 7 square miles.
The average household size in Mecca is 3.67 people, higher than the average household size in the Coachella Valley (2.54). 30% of the total 1,955 households in the community are made up of non-family households
 (individuals living alone or with non-relatives) -well below the average for the Coachella Valley.

Race & Ethnicity

Mecca has the largest Latino population in the Coachella Valley. Latino residents make up 99.9% of Mecca's population, and 39% of the total Latino residents are below the poverty line, meaning they have a household income that is below the poverty level.

Age Distribution

Mecca has a median age of 29 years old, relatively young compared to the state median age (36) and the national median age (38). 45% of Mecca's population is younger than 24 years old, almost double the average across other cities and places in the Coachella Valley where 28% of the total population is below the age of 24. 


58% of Mecca's population are immigrants, which is well above average for the Coachella Valley and the state of California. Select a community to the right of the chart to see how the size of its immigrant population compares to Mecca. 
Just 14% of Mecca's immigrants are citizens, a relatively low rate compared to many other communities in the Coachella Valley. 


Graduation Rates

26% of Mecca's population has a high school degree or higher, considerably lower than the average high school graduation rate (which includes equivalency) across the Coachella Valley (72%), California (82%) and the nation (88%). 
Just 1% of Mecca's population has a bachelor's degree or higher. Select a community to the right of the chart to see how graduation rates compare to Mecca. 


The California Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA) does not provide environmental data at the community level. The information below on environmental conditions in Mecca is based on data for the census tract containing the community.

Water Quality 

The California OEHHA created an index measuring the average annual concentration o13 common water contaminants in water systems to measure drinking water quality. 
The area containing Mecca has an index score of 729.32, significantly higher than the averages for the Coachella Valley (520.66) and California (472.37) - indicating worse water quality in Mecca than these other geographies. These numbers were measured as an average from 2005 to 2013. 


Pesticides are chemicals used to control insects, weeds, and diseases carried by plants and animals. Exposure to pesticides can cause short and long-term health problems, and the California OEHHA reports that people living in agricultural areas have higher levels of pesticides in their bodies than those living in other areas.
The California OEHHA measures the pounds of active ingredients in 70 different pesticides per square mile.  The area containing Mecca (which also includes many of the agricultural fields surrounding the community) had 92 pounds of active pesticides in the air, nearly 4 times the Coachella Valley average of 21. The numbers were measured as an average from 2012 to 2014.

Housing/Real Estate

Housing Units

There are 2,191 housing units in Mecca, making up less than 1% of the total housing units in Coachella Valley cities and places (244,761 units). 

Rent Burden

46% of renter households in Mecca were rent burdened as of 2018 estimates, meaning they paid more than 30% of their income on rent and utilities. This is slightly below the average rate for the Coachella Valley (55%) and California (53%).


The overcrowding rate (defined as the percentage of households with more than one person per one room of their housing unit) in Mecca has decreased by 8% over the most recent group of 5-year estimates, from 27% in 2016 down to 19% in 2018 . 
Select a community to the right of the graph to see how overcrowding rates compare to Mecca.


53% of households in Mecca are homeowners, below average for the state, nation and Coachella Valley.
Select a community to the right of the graph to see how homeownership rates compare to Mecca.

Social Connectedness & Health

Linguistic Isolation

60% of the households in Mecca are limited-English speaking households, meaning that no one over the age of 14 reports speaking English "very well". This is high compared to the average across other Coachella Valley cities and places where 15% of households are limited-English speaking. 

Uninsured Population

24% of the population in Mecca does not have health insurance coverage. This is above average compared to the rate of uninsured population for California (8%) and across the Coachella Valley (11.7%).

Erika Van Sickel
Erika received her Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Studies from UC Santa Barbara then worked at an environmental nonprofit organization in San Diego. She is currently pursuing a master’s in planning at USC with a concentration in design and a certificate in real estate development. Erika is also assisting to investigate rent burden and the resulting sacrifices residents are forced to make. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time outdoors and is a yoga and coffee enthusiast.

Sources Notes: All data in this community profile come from the 2018 5-year estimates of the American Community Survey with the exception of Healthcare Institutions which come from the 2018 Reference USA Business Database and water quality and pesticides which came from the CalEnviroScreen 3.0.  
Cover Photo Credit: Noe Montes