As the term “crisis” keeps cropping up around the housing market in the Tampa Bay area, many are working hard to mitigate the effects on the community. This week, WaveMakers hosts Janet and Tom Scherberger spoke with United Way Suncoast CEO Jessica Muroff about their efforts in the region.
Listen to the full episode here:
United Way is an international non-profit fundraising organization whose main objective is to promote financial stability. However, in the Suncoast region, as well as in the state of Florida, financial security is a major concern; 43% of the region is considered part of the ALICE population. ALICE, or “Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed” people are those who are employed but still live at or below the poverty line. This financial pressure is aggravated by the housing crisis; Muroff told WMNF that nearly 50% of the Suncoast area is considered “house cost burdened,” meaning it spends 30% or more of its income on housing.
New United Way Funds and Efforts
But, following a $20 million gift from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott, Suncoast United Way and more than 30 area partners are investing in relief for the housing crisis. An immediate $3 million has been earmarked for direct relief and salary payments for navigators who can help users gain access to government. Calling the money a “community gift,” Muroff said funds have also been allocated for early learning programs, infrastructure and innovation.
Muroff spoke to WMNF about his personal and professional commitment to “radical transparency,” allowing the community to see what issues United Way addresses and how accurately they address them. Their dashboard pages describe case studies of how they decided to allocate funds, as well as data on the extent of the problems themselves.
“That’s what United Way does, we stand up and step in during a crisis, and especially one that’s so aligned with one of our priority areas,” Muroff said.