Jacksonville, Fla. (Feb. 12, 2019) – More than one third of residents in Northeast Florida struggle to make ends meet, according to the 2019 edition of the United Way of Florida ALICE Report released last week in Tallahassee.
The report provides county-by-county data that speaks to the percentage of Florida residents who, despite working hard, struggle to pay for basic needs such as housing, child care, food, transportation and health care.
These Floridians are known as ALICE: Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed. They are our health-care professionals, our child-care providers; they are people we count on every day. They are households earning above the poverty line but not enough to cover the most basic of needs, such as food or housing.
In Northeast Florida – defined as Duval, Nassau, Clay, Baker and St. Johns counties – 36.8 percent of households (or 202,921 households) are considered ALICE or in poverty, according to the newly released report. Statewide, 46 percent of households face the same financial challenges.
“The numbers are truly staggering,” said Phyllis Martin, head of community impact and strategic investments at United Way of Northeast Florida. “While we live in a very generous, prosperous community, there is a vast population of our friends, neighbors and colleagues who are not able to reach their full potential. This doesn’t have to be our reality.”
United Way of Northeast Florida and United Ways across the state work to change these odds for families struggling to make ends meet. In Northeast Florida, United Way focuses on ensuring families have access to basic needs, access to high quality education, good health and well-being and all are on the path to financial security.
“The issues our ALICE families face are complex and interconnected,” said Michelle Braun, president and CEO of United Way of Northeast Florida. “At United Way, we are committed to helping families where they are now, and we are determined to break down the longstanding barriers to success so many in our community face daily.”
United Way of Northeast Florida is leading and developing several initiatives to help ALICE families and those in poverty. In partnership with Generation, United Way helped create CLIMB, Community Leaders Igniting Mobility, which has started community forums in and research on historically challenged neighborhoods to further understand their challenges and work in partnership with residents to develop solutions.
In addition, United Way focuses on economic mobility in order to change the upward mobility odds for our next generation. The approach includes programmatic and systemic approaches to changing the odds for youth born into poverty throughout our community. One example of this work is United Way of Northeast Florida’s involvement in the Network for Southern Economic Mobility, which worked with nonprofit research partner MDC to understand why poverty is concentrated historically in Southern communities.
RealSense, a United Way initiative, helps annually tens of thousands of families save money and build assets through free tax-preparation services and financial education. Specifically, the no-cost tax preparation program ensures hard working families receive, if eligible, the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Child Tax Credit (CTC). These credits provide work, income, educational and health benefits to its recipients and their children, benefiting individuals and families at every stage of life.
To read the full ALICE Report, visit unitedwaynefl.org/alice. Florida is one of 18 states with ALICE reports published. The research is supported in part by the Aetna Foundation, AT&T, Atlantic Health System, Deloitte, Entergy, Johnson & Johnson, KeyBank, Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corporation, OneMain Financial, RWJBarnabas Health, Thrivent Financial Foundation, Union Bank &Trust, UPS, and U.S. Venture.
“Despite improvements in the overall economy, ALICE continues to struggle in our community,” said Braun. “Too many people are working and unable to make ends meet. This report gives us insight to the needs of ALICE locally and underscores the importance of our mission to help create a community of opportunity where people can reach their full potential and break the cycle of generational poverty. We hope you will join us in this movement to improve Northeast Florida.”