We believe education, income and health are the foundation for a good life. An adequate income is important for economic stability. United Way has always supported this area by funding a safety net of essential human services. Now we want to also address some of the systemic issues and achieve long-lasting changes that prevent problems from happening in the first place.
Our goal is to promote economic stability and independence by increasing the number of affordable housing units and increasing economic self-sufficiency for individuals and families.
Here in Pierce County we believe families that are financially stable are more self-sufficient and independent. One of our priorities is to increase the number of affordable housing units, which is an important component of family stability.
On any given night there are more than 1,500 homeless people living on our streets. Many are families. The average income for renters in Pierce County is estimated to be $11.70 per hour, well below the hourly wage necessary to afford a two-bedroom apartment.
Here are a few ways United Way is addressing the problem:
- In 2007, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation awarded $1 million to United Way of Pierce County to tackle the housing availability issue. Out of that gift, the Housing Trust Fund Demonstration project was created. The project partners with the City of Tacoma and the Tacoma Community Redevelopment Authority (TCRA) to provide matching funds that leverage additional dollars to provide more affordable housing for Pierce County families. As of April 2009, the project has supported eight projects totaling 329 affordable housing units. In addition, a number of existing homes are being rehabilitated for sale to low and moderate income families.
- In March of 2009, United Way partnered with cities, counties and private foundations from throughout our area to form a 10-year partnership to reduce the number of homeless children and their family members by 5,000 county-wide.
- United Way of Pierce County also provided financial support for Project Homeless Connect 2008, which connected over 900 individuals to critical health and social services at a one-day event at the Tacoma Dome.
- In 2009, United Way will develop partnerships with organizations in the county to launch a financial stability program that will help families learn the basics of economic self-sufficiency such as living on a budget, saving money and career planning.