STILL WORKING HARD AND BARELY MAKING IT: Updated study reveals 41% of households on West Central Coast of Florida continue to struggle to afford the basics.
More than 635,000 households in the region (Citrus, Desoto, Hernando, Hillsborough, Manatee, Pasco, Pinellas and Sarasota counties) are unable to afford the basics despite working hard, according to the updated United Way ALICE® Report Update released by United Way of Florida.
Across our region, nearly 431,000 households live above poverty but below the ALICE threshold, or the basic cost of living. Combined, ALICE and poverty households, account for 41% percent of households in the region.
The ALICE – Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed – Report, places a spotlight on hardworking, and yet struggling residents who have little or no savings and are one emergency from falling into poverty. ALICE was originally introduced in 2014 and the update
provides a deeper look at how households have struggled over time since before the recession in 2007 through 2015. Using data from a variety of sources, including the U.S. Census, Bureau of Labor Statistics, Internal Revenue Service and Florida Department of Education, the report tells us more about the number of working individuals and families struggling financially in Florida.
“Despite improvements in our regional economy, ALICE continues to struggle as increasing costs for housing, transportation and childcare in some cases outpace growth in wages,” said Suzanne McCormick, president and CEO of United Way Suncoast. “The ALICE population is vital to our regional economy. They are the recent college grad, health care professional, underemployed professional, and more. This report gives us insight to the needs of this population and underscores the importance of our mission to break the cycle of generational poverty.”
The ALICE Report update provides county-by-county, city-level data and analysis of how many households are struggling, including the obstacles ALICE households face on the road to financial independence. It also informs us of how economic conditions have changed for ALICE families over time, including the job market and the impact of the recession.
While Sarasota County saw a notable decrease in ALICE households from the 2014 report (dropping to 33% from 39%) DeSoto experienced a remarkable increase in ALICE households, jumping to 58% from 53%.
“As we examine the data, what becomes clear is that there is a danger of ALICE dropping back into poverty. As United Ways, we work on strategies that strengthen the financial stability and earning ability of adults, while supporting children to ensure graduation with a path to college or career,” said Alice Delgardo, CEO United Way of Pasco County. “In Pasco, we saw an overall decrease in households below the ALICE threshold, but a slight increase in households falling to the poverty level. It’s critical to understand the drivers of that movement and provide programs that prevent it.”
“The report reaffirms that we have made progress across our region, but we still have a long way to go, said Bronwyn Beightol, COO of United Way of Manatee County. “We continue to fight for the education, health and financial stability of every person in every community.”
ALICE often is forced to make choices that compromise health and safety in order to make ends meet, putting both ALICE and the wider community at risk of long-term societal and economic repercussions. Tough choices for ALICE families may be deciding between putting dinner on the table or addressing a much needed car repair. United Way Suncoast created www.WalkWithALICE.com which offers users an interactive simulation of the difficult decisions ALICE makes every day.
“While our communities face similar challenges, it’s interesting to note the differences in the needs in our counties that are outlined in the report,” said Angie Bonfardino, Executive Director, and CEO United Way of Hernando County. “That’s why each United Way invests locally to address needs specific to the individuals and families in its community.”
The United Ways of Florida have been using the ALICE Report to shape programs and policies in our local communities. By bringing together business, government, nonprofit and faith-based leaders, including volunteers, many communities have found creative solutions to better support the needs of these hard working families.
For more information or to find data about ALICE in local communities, visit www.uwof.org/alice
About the Independent United Ways on Florida’s Central West Coast
United Way of Citrus County: For 30 years, United Way of Citrus County has served the people of our community by focusing on education, income, and health, because these are the building blocks for a good life. As United Way of Citrus County has evolved, we are much more than a fundraiser. Researcher. Educator. Convener. Provider. United Way of Citrus County looks for solutions to what our community needs and partners with agencies, government and business leaders to invest in and create long-lasting change. For more information, call (352) 795-LIVE, or visit www.CitrusUnitedWay.org.
United Way of Hernando County (UWHC) was established as a 501c3 organization in 1987, and since then has continuously focused on creating partnerships and mobilizing our community to seek sustainable solutions to some of the most pressing local needs. UWHC strategically allocates Community Investment Funds in Health, Education, & Financial Stability programs with proven results and local impact. UWHC works hard to balance the growing demand for basic services such as food, utilities, and rent assistance, with our ongoing commitment to tackling the underlying causes of complex issues. United Way partners with businesses and organizations that share our vision for improving lives through the power of collective impact and working together. Our support for long-term commitments are essential to addressing key social issues, such as helping children, youth, adults & elders, encouraging health and wellness, including physical and emotional care, promoting financial stability and self-sufficiency, and crisis intervention. For more information on how YOU can LIVE UNITED, visit www.UnitedWayHernando.org.
United Way of Manatee County (www.UWManatee.org) helps to create a stronger community where all residents have the opportunity to thrive. By focusing our efforts on education, income and health, United Way makes an impact on those who need it most. United Way fortifies the cornerstones of our community while approaching underlying causes of these issues in a holistic manner to create deep, lasting change. To achieve the greatest impact, the United Way develops diverse resources and partnerships and then applies consolidated efforts into precise programs and initiatives that contribute to improving the quality of life for individuals and families. For additional information, please contact Bruce Meyer at email@example.com or 941-748-1313.
United Way of Pasco County (UWPC) was founded in 1982 and since that time has raised millions of dollars to address some of Pasco County’s most critical community needs. As an organization, UWPC is committed to advancing the common good in Pasco County through collaboration and partnership with highly-effective nonprofit programs in the community. UWPC brings together people from all across the community – government, business, faith groups, nonprofits, labor and ordinary citizens – to tackle the issues that matter most. The organization is headquartered in Land O’Lakes, Fla. For additional information visit www.UnitedWayPasco.org.
United Way of South Sarasota County creates and has ongoing relationships with individuals, private and public sector companies and organizations who, through their financial support, enable the United Way of South Sarasota County to support twenty-eight local agencies that provide funding for thirty-seven programs. These programs are geared towards helping children, adults and seniors in crisis to a better opportunity in the communities of Venice, Englewood, North Port, Laurel, Nokomis and Osprey. For more information, call 941-484-4811 or visit www.UWSSC.org.
United Way Suncoast staff, volunteers and trusted community partners serve DeSoto, Hillsborough, Pinellas and Sarasota counties by developing, enhancing and implementing services and programs to help create a stronger, more vibrant community. United Way Suncoast is changing the community’s story by helping to break the cycle of generational poverty through educational programs that give children the skills to succeed and help adults achieve long-term financial stability, as well as provide support services to those who need it most. For more information, call 941.366.2686 (Sarasota office) or 813.274.0900 (Tampa office), or visit www.unitedwaysuncoast.org. To find Suncoast-area volunteer opportunities, visit www.volunteersuncoast.org.
Media Contact: Megan Ford, Dunn & Co | firstname.lastname@example.org
Local Office Contacts:
Citrus: Amy Meeks, Chief Executive Officer | email@example.com 352-795-5483
Hernando: Angela Bonfardino, Executive Director/CEO | firstname.lastname@example.org 352-688-2026
Manatee: Bronwyn Beightol, Chief Operating Officer | Bronwyn@uwmanatee.org 941-748-1313
Pasco: Stefanie Pontlitz, Chief Operating Officer | email@example.com 727-835-2029
South Sarasota County: Maryann Terry, Executive Director | firstname.lastname@example.org 941-484-4811
Suncoast: Deanna Willsey, Chief Marketing Officer | email@example.com 813-748-2696