Report Finds Thousands of NE Florida Families Struggling With Basic Needs

Over 72,000 households in Northeast Florida are living below the poverty line, while 187,000 families are classified as ALICE, meaning Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed. These households often have little savings and work multiple low-wage jobs, which conventional poverty metrics usually ignore or underreport. A recent study revealed that thousands of families in Northeast Florida are facing financial difficulties and are unable to pay rent, electricity, or grocery expenses. Some individuals are barely making ends meet, even after taking on second jobs.

United Way of Downtown Jacksonville, led by Melanie Patz, received 75,000 calls in the previous calendar year, many of which were about financial struggles. The nonprofit organization helps families find low-cost food choices, works with JEA to aid with utility bills, and accepts contributions and funds to help with rent.

In Northeast Florida, 34% of struggling homes were white, while 51% of black households and 44% of hispanic households were below the ALICE level. Age also contributes to financial difficulties, with 63% of those under the age of 25 and 49% of those over the age of 65 having trouble making ends meet. Duval, Baker, Clay, Nassau, and St. Johns counties are all part of northeast Florida.

Household costs in every county in Florida were much higher than the Federal Poverty Level in 2022. An ALICE household survival budget of $84,612 for a family of four in Northeast Florida in 2022 was the figure. The Household Survival Budget includes childcare, groceries, transportation, medical care, taxes, and a smartphone plan, which does not account for savings for retirement, college, or unexpected expenses.

United Way’s mission is to assist the community in realizing its maximum potential. They receive daily calls to their 211 hotlines from families struggling to make ends meet, even though they work extremely hard. With the assistance of supporters, alliances, and visionary community leaders, United Way can create a community of opportunity and collaborate with other organizations to help these families achieve stability.

United Way is still working on new programs and initiatives to help people in Northeast Florida get back on their feet financially and meet their basic needs. Their Racial Equity Microgrant program seeks to reduce racial inequalities by funding creative collaborations between local organizations and youth-serving NGOs.