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United Way Helps Americans Achieve Financial Stability
Individuals and families who can achieve and maintain self sufficiency are more likely to have access to educational, economic and health-related opportunities. When adults must piece together more than one part time or low wage job the need for supportive services like transportation and child care increases. Often weekend and/or evening shifts cause even more difficulty when young children need to be cared for with limited options available. Further, when an individual or family try to reach self sufficiency by holding multiple part time and/or minimum wage jobs it is safe to assume that benefits such as health insurance are not available. Opportunities for education and training as well as provision of supportive services such as child care and medical care are needed if the number of individuals and families who attain self sufficiency is to increase.
An estimated 418 individuals are homeless at any given time in Champaign County. This number is on the rise. Champaign County currently has no emergency housing for intact families. This often results in families being split up to meet agency restrictions or choosing to remain together on the streets.
With unemployment hovering around 8.3% in Champaign County, we would appear to be faring better than most in this turbulent economic time. When you factor in underemployment, however, that percentage increases to about 15%. The number of adults working in minimum wage jobs, often with limited or no benefits has given rise to above average poverty rates and the increased need for assistance. The working poor continue to lose ground in this economy. Historically the University of Illinois has been the major economic engine in the county and public perception has been that the university will insulate the community from the effects of tough economic times. Given the state of the State of Illinois finances, however, the university now faces its own financial challenges. The impact of budget cuts at the U of I have a substantial effect on the local economy. There is no end in sight to the local employment and economic uncertainty caused by the state budget crisis.
United Way of Champaign County meets with the Council of Service Providers for the Homeless on a regular basis. We have invested $217,725 into 11 community programs that help people manage limited resources and become self-sufficient. These programs are administered by the following agencies:
American Red Cross-Central Illinois Chapter
Center For Women In Transition
Cunningham Children’s Home
C-U Schools Foundation/Regional Office of Education
Habitat for Humanity of Champaign County
Money Smart Week
Salt & Light