NewsHillsborough County


New United Way report highlights struggles for families to make ends meet

ALICE report
Posted at 2:58 AM, Feb 06, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-06 20:24:50-05

TAMPA, Fla. — A newly released report from the United Way shows just how hard it is for working families in the Tampa Bay area to make ends meet.

The 134-page report goes county-by-county into the struggles families face.

The ALICE (Asset, Limited, Income, Constrained, Employed) report looks at families who work, many 40-hours per week, and their ability to afford every day necessities.

The report found 43 percent of households in the 11-county Tampa Bay region are struggling to pay for things like food, housing, transportation, medical needs and child care.

For a family of four, you would have to make more than $20 per hour to meet those basic needs. In Florida, 67 percent of jobs pay less than that.

"Oh it’s definitely paycheck to paycheck for me," said Eboney Weddle, a mom of two that relies on Affordable Housing. "I watched them get built so I was like one of the first to get on the waiting list."

Because she makes above the poverty line, she is forced to pay for things like rent, food, car insurance and child care.

"Once that happens you’re right back to square one," she said.

"Again, while they are working hard, many working multiple jobs they're not earning enough to make enough to make those budgetary needs, which means they need support from the community," says Suzanne McCormick, CEO of the United Way Suncoast.

“In Polk County, our largest service area, 49 percent of households are living below the ALICE threshold," said Penny Borgia, Chief Impact Officer for United Way of Central Florida. “Our approach to helping combat this is to fund a network of holistic services that measurably improve both short and long-term solutions in the areas of education, financial stability and health."

The United Way report also shows that the cost of living increased 12 percent in Florida for a single person and 20 percent for a family of four from 2010-2016. However, earnings only increased 13 percent in Florida.

Florida is also seeing an increase in contract jobs. That means more people are less financially stability because they don't know where their next paycheck is coming from.

On top of that, nearly half of all Floridians do not have money set aside to cover expenses for 3 months in case of an emergency.

The United Way Suncoast says that was evident during the government shutdown.

"Some of us think we don't know ALICE families but with the federal employees who were not getting paid there was a huge group of employees at the airport that we worked to support over a multi-week period. It just goes to show that those families have good jobs they often are not able to have enough banked to support themselves through a period of time by not getting paid," says McCormick.

You can read the full ALICE report, click here.