The New Poor: More Floridians find themselves in need, study shows

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More Floridians are having to ask for help because of the recession’s ongoing impact.

The state’s Community Action Agencies are reporting a 20 percent increase in demand, from people such as Celestine Davis, who has been unemployed since 2008. She continues to search for work, and volunteers to stay busy and build connections.

Like so many of the state’s “new poor,” Davis never thought she’d need help. In fact, she spent 20 years working in social services, helping other people in need.

“It’s ironic, it really is, but I can’t look at it like, ‘Well, woe is me,’ because I know there will be a change. So, that’s why I volunteer.”

According to the latest Census figures, more than one in six Floridians lives in poverty – the highest in more than a decade.

Regina Grace, director of the Self Help Institute at the Miami-Dade Community Action Agency, describes many of her clients as educated professionals who drove past her agency for years on their way to work, never dreaming they’d have to walk through the door.

“They’ve gone and got additional skills and they’ve been working, and just through sheer economics, things happen, mortgages balloon, and now, ‘I’ve got to ask somebody for help.’ “

The Florida Association for Community Action coordinates resources among agencies across the state. The agencies often help with tax preparation, housing, food assistance and job preparation. Its annual conference will be held next week in Tampa, where the discussion will center on reforms and innovation in community action.

Via Stephanie Carroll Carson, Public News Service. 

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.