Our Vision: All people have meaningful employment and safe, affordable housing.
Key impact areas:
- Family-wage employment
- Jobs for people with barriers
- Financial education and budgeting skills
- Affordable housing
Did You Know:
- On any given night, more than 8,500 people in our community are homeless.
- Over half a million people live in poverty in the Portland metro area.
In our four-county region, about 12% of people live in poverty. Poverty not only means financial instability, it also has a significant adverse impact on a person's health and social inclusion, and limits opportunities to pursue education and secure affordable housing.
By a conservative estimate, there are approximately 6,000 homeless people in our four-county area on any given night. Of these, many are families with children. Many families in must choose between paying for rent, medicine and food.
And jobs don't always ensure financial stability or a way out of poverty. About 60 percent of families who live in poverty have a household member who works at least one job. Oregon and Washington have one of the highest minimum-wage rates in the country; however at $8.80 an hour, a person must work 72 hours each week for 52 weeks a year to afford a two-bedroom apartment in the Portland-Vancouver area.
The working age population is growing at a faster rate than the growth in living wage jobs. Today, young people seeking a first job find themselves competing with adults for minimum wage positions. In fact, 80% of minimum wage workers are adults and three out of four are women. The gap between high and low-income households continues to widen; meanwhile, both low and middle-income households continue to lose ground.
Challenges are exacerbated by the lack of credit being offered to small businesses and struggling families. Policies that discriminate in employment and housing are significant challenges to formerly incarcerated individuals transitioning back into the community.
Employers and traditional employment services are not always prepared to respond to the increasing cultural diversity of the region, and people of color and people with disabilities continue to face disproportional challenges to securing living wage employment.
Seniors and people with disabilities who live in poverty struggle to afford skilled caregivers and the kind of assistance that can make the difference between living in their own homes or living in a nursing home. Availability of accessible transportation and growth of the direct-care workforce has not kept pace with the growing need; 65% of seniors rely exclusively on family and friends to provide assistance.
United Way funds a variety of cutting-edge projects that help individuals and families reach their financial goals and maintain financial security. Many of the projects reach out to people at risk of homelessness, people who are homeless and people needing employment training to secure a job. Other UW projects ensure the financial security, health, safety and social engagement of our most vulnerable seniors living in their own homes.