40 percent of people in Palm Beach County struggle to pay for essentials, report says

Posted at 8:12 PM, Feb 24, 2017
and last updated 2017-02-24 21:19:28-05

Four out of 10 people in Palm Beach County struggle to pay for certain things like food, childcare, healthcare, transportation.

A new United Way Study is shedding some light on how people are getting by in counties WPTV covers.

The United Way ALICE report looked at people who are employed, but have little to no savings.

"A lot of times when we think about who's hungry, we think about those who are homeless and on the streets, but that's not them only,” said Ruth Mageria, Cros Ministries Executive Director. “There are so many others who look like you and me who are working, maybe we are even working with them in our offices or our children are going to school with them and ye they just don't have enough to eat."

Part of problem includes rising cost of housing and not a whole lot of high paying jobs.

In Palm Beach County, 40% of people live paycheck to paycheck or below the poverty level. In Martin County, its 41%, 46% in St. Lucie county, 40% in Indian River County, and 58% in Okeechobee County.

For those who need help from local food pantries, this is not a surprising statistic.

Our Savior Lutheran Church food pantry supports poor people with food and toiletries once a month in Lake Worth.

"Its hard for me to find a good job and be on disability. That's when I come over here, when I don't have food, and I don't get assistance for food stamps so I have to get my food somewhere," said Angelita Alaniz, an unemployed chef.

Alaniz supports four children.

"It means whether or not I get to eat that week or not," said Jamie Smith. Smith was laid off from her job in December and is waiting to begin her new job shortly.

"It supplements my income. After I pay my rent I don't have a lot to live on,” said Michael Rex, a retired electrician. 

That's in line with Miami Dade County where 58% also struggle to cover basic needs.

The statewide median income per household is just over $49,000. Miami Dade County's median household is the lowest of the six biggest South Florida counties. Palm Beach County's is the highest at just over $56,000.