ST. LUCIE COUNTY – United Way of St. Lucie County announced that 51percent of households in St. Lucie 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.

“The report shows that here in St. Lucie County, from 2010 to 2016, the number of low-income workers struggling to cover basic needs move in and out of poverty and ALICE status as their circumstances improved or worsened,” said Karen Knapp, CEO United Way of St. Lucie County. “Our goal is to support and strengthen families by providing necessary resources to identified areas of need. Thirty-five percent of households in St. Lucie County fall within, what we call, ALICE status.”

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. Here in St. Lucie County, we see increases in the cost of basic necessities, which may decrease a family’s ability to save or buy a home despite holding down a 40-hour-a-week job.

Access to quality health care can be an issue for an ALICE family or individual. Beverly had a heart attack and seven brain tumors and she did not have health insurance. She went three years without being treated because of financial issues. Eventually, Beverly got connected with a United Way funded agency and received treatment. Now, her health has improved and she’s tumor free. Beverly is very thankful that United Way help made it possible for her to get treated. “It kept me alive to where I can watch my kids grow up,” said Beverly.

“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 Granger. “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.”

Other findings include:

·The biggest drivers of cost increases for families since the end of the recession are health care ($726), taxes ($393) and the cost of food ($542).

· Thirty-seven percent of St. Lucie County residents who are single or co-habitating fall within the ALICE criteria, and 11percent fall within poverty criteria.

Florida is one of 18 states that have 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.  For city-and county-level ALICE data or to find county-by-county survival and stability budgets for six family sizes, visit UnitedWayALICE.org/Florida.

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