United Way of North Central Florida has announced that 50 percent of households in Alachua County struggle to pay for basic needs such as housing, child care, food, transportation, health care and technology. Statewide 46 percent of households face the same financial challenges. In Alachua County, the number of low-income workers struggling to cover essentials grew by 6 percent, between 2010 and 2016.
“We know so many of our community members are working hard, but are still struggling make ends meet,” said UWNCFL President and CEO Mona Gil de Gibaja, MSW, Ph.D. “Many of these residents are one crisis away from losing everything.”
These struggling Floridians are Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed or ALICE. They are households earning above the poverty line but not enough to cover the most basic of needs like food and housing. Across our six-county footprint, on average, 33 percent of households are ALICE, meaning everything from child care to health care plague a family’s ability to save or buy a home despite holding down a 40-hour-a-week job. The study showed Dixie, Gilchrist, Levy and Union counties all falling above the statewide average of 32 percent.
Barbara B., a 64-year-old Gainesville resident, works a good job with health care that is subsidized by her employer. However, with her heart condition, she has been hospitalized three times within the past five years, and the medical bills keep her from getting ahead. Barbara B. is ALICE.
The cost of basic household needs increased steadily, outpacing the rate of inflation and wage growth. In Alachua County, the cost for a family of four to meet basic needs rose more than 6 percent and nearly 4 percent for a single adult. Compared to Florida where the cost rose 20 percent per family and 12 percent for a single adult. Florida’s booming economy was a popular talking point during the 2018 midterms, but today residents earn $8.46 an hour. The essentials necessary to survive require upwards of $27 per hour.
“We started a movement five years ago to raise awareness about these families who work and want to provide for their families,” said United Way of Florida President Ted Ganger. “Through the efforts of our local United Ways and their partners we can develop simple, fiscally conservative solutions that would have an immediate, positive impact on families.”
Florida is one of 18 states that have ALICE reports published. For town- and county-level ALICE data or to find county-by-county survival and stability budgets for six family sizes, visit UnitedWayALICE.org/Florida.