By Tracey Burnett-Greenup, Senior Director of Case Management and Financial Stability
42% of households in the greater Houston area are struggling to get meet their basic needs. The Federal Poverty Level (FPL) for a family of four is listed as $24,300, but the basic cost of living for a family of four is $61,404.1 That means there is more than a $37,000 income gap where families are still not able to make ends meet, but the FPL says they should be able to. Part of the reason there is such a gap is the basic cost of living in Houston is higher than what most people are earning. Nearly 30% of those struggling are employed individuals with an income above the FPL, but who are still unable to afford the basic necessities of housing, food, child care, health care, and transportation.
These households fit into a new category created by the United Way called ALICE.1 ALICE stands for Asset Limited Income Constrained Employed. ALICE is people you know. They are working families who pay taxes and whose jobs provide services important to the economy. Common jobs that fall into the ALICE category are child care workers, grocery store cashiers, home health aides, and office clerks. You have probably been ALICE at some point in your life, or someone close to you has been. If it were not for a friend or family member helping you with rent or paying your electricity bill during that time, you might have been evicted. However, not everyone has family or friends who are able to financially help. Our community, including agencies such as Family Houston, United Way, Texas Veterans Commission, Houston Food Bank, and Houston Area Urban League, is stepping up and finding ways to assist this vulnerable population, and all of those struggling.
With 42% of Houstonians struggling to make ends meet, Case Management is an integral part of what we do at Family Houston, but what does Case Management really mean? Our Case Management program works to keep individuals in their home, their lights on, and families fed by connecting them with the resources they may not know are available to them. We help our clients meet their basic needs, but we also take it one step further. We want to end this cycle of financial insecurity. To do that we offer comprehensive services. We are able to walk clients down to a financial coach who can help them create a budget and manage their money, an employment coach who can help them build their resume and apply for jobs, and a counselor who can help them manage their anxiety and develop healthy coping mechanisms for life’s stresses. Through all of this we help our clients become even stronger parts of this community and end this cycle of financial insecurity.
If you or someone you know is struggling to meet their basic needs call us to set up an appointment at 713-861-4849. There are no minimum requirements to work with our case managers, and services are offered at no cost to the client.