Study reveals 43% of Treasure Coast households continue to struggle to afford the basics

Carol G. Houwaart-Diez, President/CEO, United Way of Martin County, Michael Kint, CEO, United Way of Indian River County, Karen Knapp, CEO/President, United Way of St. Lucie County
Carol G. Houwaart-Diez, President/CEO, United Way of Martin County, Michael Kint, CEO, United Way of Indian River County, Karen Knapp, CEO/President, United Way of St. Lucie County

There are 99,339 Treasure Coast households unable to afford the basics of housing, food, health care, child care and transportation despite working hard, according to the United Way ALICE® Report Update released today by United Way of Florida. On the Treasure Coast, more than 69,568 households live above poverty but below the ALICE threshold, or the basic cost of living. Combined, ALICE and poverty households, account for 43% percent of households on the Treasure Coast. 

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.

“ALICE individuals and families are working jobs that are vital to the success of our communities and yet they continue to struggle with the basics. As a United Way network we will continue to work to find solutions that will help our hard working friends and neighbors,” said Michael Kint, Chief Executive Officer, United Way of Indian River County.

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. 

The ALICE Report statistics per county:

County

Households Below ALICE 2015 data (2012 data)

Median Household Income 2015 data (2012 data)

Household Survival Budget – 2 adults, 1 infant, 1 preschooler (2012 data)

Martin County

41% (45%)

$51,622 ($44,821)

$62,136 ($55,030)

St. Lucie County

46% (49%)

$45,905 ($41,785)

$53,856 ($51,036)

Indian River County

40% (45%)

$49,379 ($40,413)

$50,448 ($48,323)


The updated report shows that the median household income has increased throughout all three counties compared to the previous report and the percentage of households living below ALICE threshold has decreased in all three counties as a result. However, while this favorable news represents progress in recent years, the number of households living below the ALICE threshold still has not fallen to pre-recession levels. 
 

“The report reaffirms that we have made real progress, but we still have a long way to go to advance the quality of life for all people in our communities,” said Karen Knapp, CEO/President, United Way of St. Lucie County.

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. 

“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 Carol G. Houwaart-Diez, President/CEO, United Way of Martin County. “That’s why each United Way invests locally to address needs specific to the individuals and families in its community.”

Treasure Coast’s United Ways have been using the ALICE Report to shape programs and policies in 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.

United Way is focused on providing the basic foundation in the areas of education, financial stability and health to help improve the lives of ALICE and those in poverty, for the long-term benefit of the wider community. 

For more information or to find data about ALICE in local communities, visit http://www.uwof/alice

About  United Way of Indian River County

United Way of Indian River County is encouraging people in the community to LIVE UNITED by volunteering their time and talent to a local cause. For more information on how you can LIVE UNITED and help create a brighter future for those in need in our community, please call 772-567-8900, visit our website at www.UnitedWayIRC.org, or go to www.VolunteerIndianRiverCounty.org.

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