The U.S. Census Bureau reports that over 12% of U.S. households families failed to meet basic needs in 2011.1 This includes families struggling to meet housing costs, providing meals for their children, access to transportation and more. In California, however, a family of four would have to earn $63,000 a year to cover its basic needs, more than three times the federal poverty level.2
United Ways of California (UWCA) believes that the most that the most effective way to help the most people is to focus on the underlying causes of the most serious problems. Many United Ways find providing children with a good education, helping families secure a livable income and quality health conditions, serve as the basis for improving all lives. To address obstacles facing low-income families, UWCA advocates for:
With increased income-support systems, United Ways of California believes savings and assets can help low-income families avoid financial crises caused by emergencies and unexpected changes in income. These savings can also help families with long-terms goals such as investing in their children’s education, homeownership and a stable retirement. While we recognize that it is difficult for some families to save due to nominal incomes, being unbanked, or lack of access to appropriate financial products, California’s United Ways are dedicated to helping families attain financial stability through financial literacy programs, establishing savings accounts, long-term savings opportunities and more.
Click here to learn about Bank-On California, an initiative that connects unbanked Californians to low-cost bank accounts and free financial services.
California’s families have been significantly hurting in the aftermath of the Great Recession. Unemployment rates within the state have consistently run between 9% and 12% since the end of 20083 indicating that thousands of families are continuously struggling to secure family-sustaining employment. Rural communities have been hit particularly hard due firm closures, the lack of new construction, reductions in public services and more.
United Ways of California believes that families must have a steady source of income to meet housing costs, food expenses, their children’s education and other everyday costs. Throughout the state, California’s United Ways are investing in and advocating for job training, workforce development programs, apprenticeships, and other opportunities that create family-sustaining employment. United Way also works to mitigate family income disruptions through disaster preparedness and recovery, 2-1-1 information and referral services, and assistance during and after natural disasters.
Click here to learn about Real Social Merced, a program co-sponsored by United Way of Merced County that connects young people to small businesses through networking and social media.
United Ways of California strives to connect families with all of the available income supports they are eligible for while they work to become financially independent. Examples of these programs include the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), the Volunteer Income Tax Credit (VITA), CalFresh (California’s Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program) and more. Fortunately, many California United Ways have designed innovative programs to help families find the right resources they need at the right time.
Click here to learn about United Way of the Bay Area’s SparkPoint program, an all-in-one service center where low-income families can find job placement services, tax preparation assistance and more.
The National Alliance to End Homelessness reports that 130,898 persons were found homeless in California in 2012.4 Not only did California significantly lead all US States but it also comprised 21% of the nation’s homeless population. Of those, 25,210 were families, 33,422 were chronically homeless and 16,461 were Veterans, the highest rates nationally.5
Moreover, thousands of families in California are still struggling to find affordable housing since the Great Recession. According to the California Association of Realtors, only 36% of homebuyers could afford to buy a median-priced, single-family home in the second quarter of 2013.6 To address these housing challenges, California’s United Ways are working to place homeless populations in permanent supportive housing programs, provide emergency food and shelter, working with local government agencies to expand access to affordable housing and more.
Click here to learn about United Way of Greater Los Angeles’ Home for Good program, where they work to connect chronically homeless populations and veterans to permanent supportive housing programs.
According to the 2013 Financial Literacy Survey, 40% of U.S. adults gave themselves a grade of C, D, or F on their knowledge of personal finance.7 While most of them seek to further their financial proficiency, low-income families face even greater obstacles. From struggling to setup checking and savings accounts, learning the intricacies of how to save for or purchase a home, to investing in retirement and their children’s future, low-income families often lack the networking mechanisms and knowledge assets necessary to secure their financial sustainability.
Fortunately, California’s United Ways are partnering with government and community-based agencies to ensure families attain the financial literacy they need to be secure. From Sparkpoint Centers to financial empowerment programs, families can strengthen their financial knowledge through community programs, one-on-one assistance and free classes on how to purchase a home, debt reduction, and more.
1. Extended Measures of Well-Being: Living Conditions in the United States. U.S. Census Bureau. http://1.usa.gov/17S18f9
2. The Self-Sufficiency Standard for California 2011. Insight Center for Community Development. http://bit.ly/17Ah2K8
3. Economy at a Glance. California. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. http://1.usa.gov/a7zw6s
4. The State of Homelessness in America 2013. National Alliance to Lead Homelessness. April 2013. http://bit.ly/10Rf9Dt
6. C.A.R. Releases Q2 Affordability Report. California Association of Realtors. August 12, 2013. http://bit.ly/15vERwu
7. NFCC and NBPCA Financial Literacy Survey Reveals Consumers’ Top Financial Concerns. National Foundation for Credit Counseling. http://bit.ly/YP938q