Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

More in middle class are seeking help for first time

The bleak economy is forcing strapped Tampa Bay region residents to seek help covering grocery, rent and utilities bills in growing numbers, the area's primary social welfare referral group reports. Many of those unable to cover such basic living costs are middle class and making their first contact with safety net agencies, group leaders say. And at all economic levels, those reaching out are more frantic. "It's much more desperate," said Micki Thompson, executive director of 211 Tampa Bay Cares. "Folks are struggling, you can definitely tell there's community stress." Thompson's group connects callers to 211 with nonprofit and government programs that offer affordable medical and mental health treatment, rent subsidies and other services. Not surprisingly, 211's nonprofit partners also report a spike and say their resources are severely taxed. Kip Corriveau directs social services for the Salvation Army of Upper Pinellas County. Six months ago, his group got about 25 requests a day for help with housing and utilities bills. Now, he said, it's more like 125. More striking than the increased need, Corriveau said, is who's stepping forward for help. "These are middle class people who've never asked for assistance," he said. "These are all new people."

Times staff writer Camille Spencer contributed to this report.

Pinellas

A comparison of the number and type of calls made in Pinellas during two 12-month periods (Sept. 2006 to Aug. 2007 and Sept. 2007 to the end of August) suggests the dismal economy has more residents scrambling. Overall requests for help were up just over 6 percent, going from 60,308 to 64,152. Yet requests for aid for basic household costs surged.

Rental or mortgage help: Up 46 percent to 6,754 requests.

Help with utilities: Up 29 percent to 8,992.

Food aid: Up 58
percent to 2,974.
Hillsborough

In Hillsborough, total requests went up 4.4 percent — 93,676 calls from October 2007 through last month — compared with the same period last year.

Rental or mortgage help: Up 8.9 percent, to 10,304 requests.

Help with utility requests: Up 47.1 percent, to 9,916.

Food aid: Up 9.3
percent, to 1,081.
Pasco

The total number of 211 calls for July and August increased 34 percent, to 4,974, over the same months last year. Almost half were for utilities. "The majority is related to the economy," said Susan Arnett, president of the United Way of Pasco County. "People are needing more help with utilities and food."

Rental or mortgage help: Up 13 percent, to 462 requests.*

Utility help: Up 42 percent, to 1,274. *

Food aid: Up 34
percent, to 329.*
Hernando

Overall requests to the Hernando helpline are up, concentrated in key areas like mortgage, food and utility help. But Kathy Jones, Hernando County United Way's executive director, said workers are hearing from more people who need help paying for their medicine. Requests for prescription assistance were up 41 percent during the past two months compared to the same months last year, with 61 calls.

Rental or mortgage help: Up 35 percent, to 178 requests.*

Help with utility requests: up 175
percent, to 399.*

Food aid: Up 125
percent, to 254.*

*Hernando and Pasco county data is a two-month comparison of July-August 2007 compared to July-August 2008.

More in middle class are seeking help for first time 10/05/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, October 7, 2008 1:58pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Judge tosses life sentences for D.C. sniper Lee Boyd Malvo

    Nation

    McLEAN, Va. — A federal judge on Friday tossed out two life sentences for one of Virginia's most notorious criminals, sniper Lee Boyd Malvo, and ordered Virginia courts to hold new sentencing hearings.

    A federal judge has tossed out two life sentences for D.C. sniper shooter Lee Boyd Malvo. [Associated Press, 2004]
  2. Zbigniew Brzezinski, President Carter's national security adviser, dies

    News

    Zbigniew Brzezinski, the hawkish strategic theorist who was national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter in the tumultuous years of the Iran hostage crisis and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan in the late 1970s, died on Friday at a hospital in Virginia. He was 89.

    Zbigniew Brzezinski, former national security adviser to President Jimmy Carter, participates in Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on Capitol Hill on March 5, 2009, in Washington, D.C. [Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images]
  3. USF eliminated by UCF in AAC baseball; Florida, FSU, Miami win

    Colleges

    CLEARWATER — Roughly 16 hours after a ninth-inning collapse against East Carolina in the American Athletic Conference's double-elimination baseball tournament, USF returned to Spectrum Field presumably set for a reboot.

    It simply got booted instead.

    ’NOLES win: Tyler Holton gets a hug from Drew Carlton after his strong eight innings help Florida State beat Louisville.
  4. Pinellas licensing board executive director settled hundreds of cases without getting his board's approval

    Local Government

    By Mark Puente

    Times Staff Writer

    Eleanor Morrison complained to the Pinellas licensing board in 2015 that her contractor installed crooked walls and windows and poured too much concrete for her carport.

    Eleanor Morrison poses at her home in Treasure Island, 5/26/17. Morrison filed a complaint with the Pinellas County Construction Licensing Board and later learned that its former Executive Director, Rodney Fischer, dismissed the case in a private meeting with the contractor.
  5. Report: Kusher wanted secret communications channel with Kremlin

    World

    Jared Kushner and Russia's ambassador to Washington discussed the possibility of setting up a secret and secure communications channel between Donald Trump's transition team and the Kremlin, using Russian diplomatic facilities in an apparent move to shield their pre-inauguration discussions from monitoring, U.S. …

    The name of Jared Kushner, President Donald Trump's White House senior adviser, has come up as part of the Russia investigation. [Associated Press]