Category: Navigation Center

A place for families: the Dove Springs community

As Austin grows, many neighborhoods are becoming more predominantly headed by single professionals or other household structures – but Dove Springs remains a place for families. Unfortunately, our friends and neighbors struggle with unemployment and health care challenges, and are still recovering from last year’s flooding.    Dove Springs is a younger community with many families and a growing Hispanic/Latino population The Dove Springs community has very strong Hispanic and Latino roots. The neighborhood has largely been settled by the Hispanic and Latino population for more than a decade and currently 4 out of 5 residents claim that ethnicity. Unlike other neighborhoods that have more seniors, students or young professionals without children, Dove Springs is full of families – which are define by the US census as a household with two or more people related by birth, marriage or adoption. A lower percentage of family households in Dove Springs are married-couple families (59 percent vs. 68 percent in Austin overall) and a higher percentage are headed by single fathers (13 percent vs. 9 percent) or single mothers (29 percent vs. 22 percent), similar to the St. John’s and Manor communities.  People who live in Dove Springs are also typically younger than other City of Austin residents with a full third of residents being under the age of 18.   Many Dove Springs residents are struggling with unemployment  Over the last couple of years, the unemployment rate for Dove Springs has been higher than the unemployment rate in the City of Austin: Dove Springs residents […]

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Making Ends Meet in Manor

Meet the Maldonado Family – they live in the Manor area in Austin, Far East on 290. Benito, Sr. and Leonor are parents to Benito, Jr. (15,) Brenda (12) and Blue Emmy (1 mo.) Like the Salazar Family, they face a unique set of economic challenges and rely on their community for support. Benito, Sr. works two jobs to make ends meet for the family, but it can still be a struggle to manage everyday expenses in addition to the cost of housing and utilities. It takes about fifty thousand dollars for just a family of four to break even in Austin, so the Maldonados rarely have enough money at the end of the month after covering their rent, food, childcare, car insurance, bills and more. The Maldonados aren’t alone – half of all people in the Manor neighborhood spend 1/3 or more of their income on housing. And as temperatures rise during the blistering Texas summer, it can be tricky to keep up with high utility bills. Luckily, the Maldonado family is able to utilize our Navigation Center, where dialing 2-1-1 will connect them to local resources that can help them pay these high bills so that their utilities are not disconnected.  $50K For a family of four to break even in Austin 50%  Renters in Manor who spend 1/3 or more of income on housing The Maldonados have considered using payday loans when they’re behind on bills, but this can cost them $1,000’s in annual fees to predatory […]

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Austin’s growth in focus: the Manor community

As Austin continues to grow, certain corners of our city are seeing huge influxes – and the Manor community is one of them. Since the turn of the millennium, the population in Manor has tripled.    Manor residents are increasingly young and non-white From 2000 to 2012 Manor saw particularly strong growth in its Hispanic and African-American populations, especially compared with the city as a whole.      Moreover, more than a third of Manor residents are under the age of 18 – a 30 percent growth from 2000 to 2012. Much like in St. John’s, many of these residents are low-income.      Manor residents are reaching out for help 13 percent more times this year than last Manor is one of many suburban zip codes in Travis County that has increasingly been reaching out for help to our Navigation Center.  [Tweet “Calls for help to @uwatx from Manor in 2014 are up 13 percent over the first six months of 2013.”] The changing populations are reflected in the types of calls that we receive: callers from Manor are more likely to report health needs or needs related to children than the average 2-1-1 caller. The types of needs being reported to 2-1-1 from the Manor community make sense when considering that the population of economically disadvantaged children at Manor high school alone has tripled along with the population.   Manor residents own their homes and are employed, but services are lacking and housing costs are a burden Overall, our […]

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It takes a lot to thrive as a working family

This is the Salazar family – they live in the St. John’s neighborhood in Austin, near the intersection of I-35 and 183. Like many Austin families, they juggle many challenges – tight budgets, long hours and trying to provide the best for their family – so the Salazars need support from their community. Claudia, the mother, decided to stay at home to care for their children and avoid the high costs of child care while her husband provides for the family by fixing cars. Between transportation to get to work on time, food, bills and rent – there’s barely enough left at the end of each paycheck. During the summer especially, as the temperatures rise, so do water and electric bills – so a time that most families enjoy together is a time of stress in the Salazar home as their finances get even tighter. The Salazars have even considered taking out payday loans just to get along – but these can cost thousands in fees and leave them with even more challenges. But the Salazars can turn to United Way to access safer banking options so they can avoid payday lenders – or call our Navigation Center to connect to summer food programs.  In a couple of years, their daughter Kylie will enter middle school where many students begin to fall behind. The Salazar’s know that for Kylie to stay on the path to graduation, she’ll need support from both of them, she’ll need to not worry about food or how she’ll get […]

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Hidden in plain sight: the unique St. John’s neighborhood

Over the last decade in Austin, the population has been rapidly growing, jobs have been plentiful and organic, fresh food has seen a boom. But that story isn’t the same across all of Austin’s neighborhoods.  In the St. John’s neighborhood, the population has decreased by 5 percent since 2000 – a phenomenon that, although surprising, is actually not unique as people increasingly settle in the suburban and rural areas of our region. Yet although the population is smaller, the face of the community has changed somewhat significantly. An extremely high (and growing) percentage of St. Johns residents are Hispanic: [cta][/cta] Unique from the City of Austin, the St. Johns community has seen growth in its Black and African American population. Blacks and African Americans now represent one out of every seven St. Johns residents. Across the City of Austin the Black and African American population has generally been declining in size, so this growth in St. Johns is particularly notable. The St. John’s area stood out from the rest of Austin in a few more ways:  St. Johns has seen a slight decrease in the percentage of its population that is under the age of 18 (down to 22 percent in 2012 from 24% in 2000). This is likely related to the overall growth in population outside of the City as families with children are more likely to relocate to suburban and rural areas because of relative housing affordability. Families in the St. Johns area are less likely to be headed up by married couples […]

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Food needs increase, spread out in summer

Throughout the year, seasonal needs drive different types of calls to our Navigation Center, but summer is an especially difficult time for Austin residents. As utility bills increase and children are home for the summer, without the school-provided free or reduced lunch option, we see food needs rise –  Food need calls by month in 2013:  *SNAP calls not included in this chart to make it easier to see trends.    Last year, 63 percent of calls for summer food programs were in June, creating the spike above. These programs provide free meals to children during the summer. Most of the needs for food year-round are related to SNAP/food stamp assistance followed by food pantries, and we see an increase for food pantry needs over the summer as well.  The need for summer food programs is unusual in that it’s more spread out than others. Two of our top zip codes for summer food program needs last year were 78664 (Round Rock) and 78660 (Pflugerville), breaking the trend of need in general.   Concentration of calls in Central Texas:    Concentration of overall food needs in Central Texas:  As food continues to dominate our top needs overall and food pantries make our list of unmet needs most months, summer is a critical period where many of our friends and neighbors struggle even more. 

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Challenge: stump our data

Just a few weeks ago, we released the 2013 Community Needs and Trends report for our community – and right away, nonprofits  throughout Greater Austin asked for a deeper dive into key elements of this treasure trove of data, including diapers and food needs. We also saw data released from other organizations that reinforced our findings. Here are the big answers, insights & details that came out of it all:  1. Both adult and child diapers are a key need in Greater Austin .@Austindiapers Data show diapers rank high on our list of unmet needs: pic.twitter.com/ZduYnHQZwo — United Way Austin (@uwatx) February 12, 2014 2. Data consistently show women are the majority of those looking for help From @CPPP_TX: Female-headed Texas working families that are low-income increased from 59% in 2007 to 61% in 2012: http://t.co/PXXipZT1Cj — United Way Austin (@uwatx) February 13, 2014 Our #data show women are the majority of those looking for help – & #childcare is a big concern. @MomsRising @CPPP_TX pic.twitter.com/Y6AxAig6FS — United Way Austin (@uwatx) February 19, 2014 3. Food needs vary seasonally but continue growing Capital Area Food Bank aggregated our data to show the growing food needs over the past few years and asked us to look into the effects of cuts to SNAP benefits in November.  .@CAFBTX We dug deeper – food needs spiked earlier in 2013 and bounced up in Dec, unlike in 2012. pic.twitter.com/LWryDF106n — United Way Austin (@uwatx) February 23, 2014   The more than 350K calls we answer […]

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Free tax prep is “the best thing I’ve ever come across”

In my work with UWATX, I’ve had the pleasure of helping thousands of Central Texans take a meaningful step towards financial security by opening bank accounts, encouraging savings and taking advantage of free tax prep. Recently, I got to speak with Sarah in La Grange who used myfreetaxes.com/uwatx (which is powered by H&R Block) to file her taxes for FREE.  Sarah had just gotten back in town from Brenham where she works at the State Supported Living Center. Sarah has been living in La Grange with her husband and three kids (10,4, and 2) for the last ten years.  She grew up in the city and always knew she wanted to raise her kids in a rural setting with good schools.  “It’s the best thing I’ve ever come across – I’ve encouraged all of my friends and family to prepare their taxes this way” – Sarah on myfreetaxes.com/uwatx How were you getting your taxes done before this? What changed?  I had been getting them done at retail tax preparers for years.  Last year, I paid $290 for my return. This year, they whipped it up  in what seemed like no time at all and then asked for $315 plus a $35 fee for direct deposit. I can’t afford that, I have a husband and three kids, so I got up and walked out.  What did you do then?   I reached out to Workforce Solutions in La Grange, TX and they connected me to the United Way service.  I sat down at a computer and […]

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Top needs & trends for 2013: food, health care & bills

Our Navigation Center is uniquely poised on the front-lines of community issues – we answer calls from thousands of Greater Austin residents on issues ranging from child care and tax preparation to food stamps and health care.  Residents who call us are often struggling with every day needs, and all of them are challenged with how to access help for those needs.  We pride ourselves on connecting them to the right resource while also being friendly and professional – and it shows:  our staff maintained a 99% satisfaction rate among callers. To give Austinites a  snapshot of what issues residents struggled with last year, we’re releasing our 2013 Community Needs and Trends Report – download it today.  Here’s what we saw in 2013:  Significant increase in food-related calls Calls related to food needs continue to dominate. We saw a 58 percent increase in food stamp, SNAP and food pantry calls – piggy backing on a 55% increase last year.  Residents continue to struggle with paying bills Residents continue to call in for help paying their electricity and rent bills and to get help with housing. These have consistently been in the top 5 needs in our area for the last three years.  Noticeable jump in calls due to launch of Affordable Care Act We started partnering with Central Health in 2009 to make it easier for individuals to qualify for state and federal health care benefits like CHIP and MAP. Last year, our staff made 85 percent of all the […]

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Navigation Center provides help quickly, accurately, confidentially and for free

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-2SuqZipb54[/youtube] Since 1996, the United Way Navigation Center has been connecting callers to the services they need. We took the first 2-1-1 call in Texas in 2002 and to date, our Navigation Center has answered more than two million calls. Here’s how it works: when a caller dials 2-1-1 in our 10-county region, they are connected to one of our Navigators within a minute. The Navigator assesses their needs and then finds appropriate organizations from our database of more than six thousand local resources. Calling isn’t the only way to access our service – you can also go online to search our online database directly. We want to make sure that anyone in need can turn to us in the way that works for them. And we pride ourselves on service: the Navigation Center is free, confidential and multilingual; our specialists are professionally-trained, nationally rated, and also friendly; and along the way, we collect data to provide feedback to decision makers, nonprofits and other stakeholders about what the needs are in our community and how they are evolving.  

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