HELPING TO SUPPORT FINANCIAL STABILITY IN OUR COMMUNITY
Of UWHC's nearly 20 “partner agencies”, several programs' efforts coordinate to improve families' financial stability, by increasing the probability of gainful employment, managing expenses, providing access to work and services, and a focus on affordable housing.
The 2019 United Way/ Mission Granbury Community Needs Assessment identified transportation as a top priority local need. In response to these findings, a transportation coalition was assembled and will be working with other stakeholders on establishment of a small local, transit system. The impact will be tremendous; providing a means to work, healthcare, and the vast network of community support services. This means improved financial stability and quality of life.
A new partner in 2021, Good Samaritan Auto Ministries makes a tremendous impact by repairing vehicles at no cost to the owner. Labor is provided at no charge and road-ready, reliable vehicles means that more people are able to get to work and keep gainfully employed. Vehicle owners are educated on routine vehicle maintenance needs and are held accountable for long-term continued care.
Approximately 10% of Hood County residents live in poverty, mostly generational poverty of two generations or more. Poverty is an extreme condition. The National Center for Children in Poverty reported that the level of income families typically require to make ends meet is nearly twice the federal poverty thresholds. An additional significant percentage of Hood County working families are termed "ALICE" (Asset Limited Income Constrained Employed). While these families doesn’t necessarily meet the federal “poverty” guidelines they're borderline on making ends meet and certainly don’t have the income to save. Many don't have any post-secondary education or skills to earn higher wages and they’re living paycheck to paycheck, one crisis away from financial disaster.
Forward Training Center provides education classes, at no cost, to adults. Their education in computers, financial literacy and even the support of an individual mentor affords them a great step-up in the job market; enabling their ability to earn a livable wage.
The cost of living is the other side of the financial stability equation. Currently, Hood County is one of the fastest growing counties in the country. This rapid growth rate has created a shortage in housing inventory and an increase in average cost of rent. Only 77% of Hood County residents own their home. For the remainder, rent is a great financial burden. Median gross rent in Hood County in 2019 was $961. Of those renting, 71% live below the poverty level. UWHC supports and advocates for the projects of the Granbury Housing Authority, working diligently to obtain grants and forge partnerships, bringing high numbers of safe, affordable housing units to the community.
The local economy in crisis: In response to the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, UWHC collaborated with the Granbury Chamber of Commerce to distribute over $150,000 via 70 "Small Business Resiliency Program" grants to small business owners in Hood County. The purpose was to keep business doors open and residents employed, prior to deployment of federal assistance programs. For many local small business owners, this safety net made the difference between them closing their doors and layoffs and their ability to remain open for business.
Our Goal & Strategy
To address the obstacles that prevent hard working families from getting ahead financially, UWHC will first tackle the challenge of transportation head-on. Our goal is to have a small public transit system established in Hood County by 2024. This will enable the ability to get to work, access higher education or trade school opportunities, and increase families' ability to earn a livable wage. This will also improve access to safety net supports such as food pantries and medical care, keeping people healthy and preventing costly future treatment. We will continue to work with the Chamber of Commerce to facilitate programs that support our small business community and opportunities for mentorship programs, CTE programs in schools, and others that foster economic development to this area and positively affect the greater local economy.
How You Can Help
With your help, we believe that we can help more families get on the road to economic independence. Volunteers are needed at adult education programs such as Forward Training Center, food pantries, and by service on the Transportation Coalition, researching funding opportunities & grant writing, and advocating for these programs that will enable families to become financially stable and to reach higher goals.