All people in Douglas County will have equitable opportunities for financial stability and independence through access to quality housing, just wages, and the opportunity to build generational wealth.
ACHIEVE GREATER FINANCIAL STABILITY THROUGH HOUSING
Achieving greater stability allows lower-income working families to move toward financial independence. A revealing indicator of this level of stability is the percentage of lower income working families who spend more than 40 percent of their income on housing. This tenuous balance between income and housing costs gives a sense of the hardship faced by many as they attempt to pay for the single biggest expense for a typical family. The situation has worsened significantly since 2000, according to data from the American Community Survey. More than one-third of lower-income working families in spend more than 40 percent of their income on housing, nationally. In Douglas County, more than 53% of all households spend more than 30% of their income in housing. Douglas County has also seen an increase in homelessness. 21% of homeless Douglas County residents are homeless due to domestic violence, 41% struggle with drug or alcohol abuse, and 44% have severe and persistent mental illness.
Our Partners: Housing & Credit Counseling, Tenants to Homeowners, Lawrence Community Shelter, Willow Domestic Violence Center
BUILDING SAVINGS, GAINING & SUSTAINING ASSETS
Low- to moderate-income families struggle to build and increase their personal savings, often because immediate needs take priority over longer-term financial needs, yet savings give individuals the flexibility to make financial decisions that benefit themselves and their families and are critical to helping families manage crises. Building savings is vital to deal with unexpected, unbudgeted expenses. Only 37 percent of lower income working families have a checking or savings account with at least $300 saved, according to an analysis of the Survey of Income and Program Participation of the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That amount—$300—is what is needed to weather a single typical emergency, as evidenced by the average loan obtained through payday loan services. Just as important as the dollar amount, an account means building a relationship with a bank and not having to rely on a high-fee check-cashing or payday loan service. It also allows a family to set goals to build savings and ultimately assets.
Before the 1990s, few believed that acquiring assets—retirement accounts, homes, postsecondary education or life insurance— could help move families out of poverty. However, research conducted over the past decade demonstrates that assets increase household stability, decrease economic strain, and decrease the likelihood of poverty transmittal from one generation to the next.
Our Partners: Catholic Charities
HEALTHY, ACCESSIBLE FOOD FOR ALL
Food insecurity is defined as the limited or uncertain availability of nutritionally adequate foods or uncertain ability to acquire these foods in socially acceptable ways. Lacking consistent access to food is related to hunger, weight gain, and premature death. The effects on developing children are of particular concern, as children in food-insecure homes are more likely to be hospitalized and more likely to develop health conditions such as anemia, obesity, and asthma.
The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) provides monthly benefits to families with household income at or below 130% of federal poverty guidelines. However, only 74% of eligible Kansas families receive benefits, ranking the state 44th in the country for eligible individuals’ participation. Kansas is one of only 13 states that charges a sales tax on groceries, and, with a 6.5% state food sales tax rate, has the second-highest grocery tax rate in the county.16.6% of households in Douglas County are food insecure.