The Sun Sets on Pinellas County and Poverty

Alice Still Lives Here.

Two weeks ago, I attended a conference for nonprofit organizations, sponsored by The Foundation for A Healthy St Petersburg. What I learned that day surprised me.

The group detailed the findings of a United Way survey of Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed persons. They made up the ALICE report, which described deep pockets of poverty throughout Florida. In Pinellas County, the towns specifically were Ridgecrest, Lealman, Kenneth City, High Point, South Pasadena, and Gulfport.

These are the working poor – employed individuals living paycheck to paycheck – set back by costs of child care, transportation, disabilities, and a high cost of living in their chosen location.

The populations mentioned were predominately white working class poor people. This is not the area of Pinellas County known as The South Side, but rather towns where poor white people have not been able to pull themselves up and attain a standard of living to be considered middle class.

I met Jake-Ann Jones,  the Managing Editor and a reporter for the Weekly Challenger newspaper sitting at the same table with me. We committed ourselves to doing something together with our talents to help reverse the tide for disadvantaged people.

Jake – as she prefers to be called – is currently working through the Venture Philanthropy Fund to help nonprofits grow and thrive. Another statistic of note at the conference was that there are more than 6200 “501(c)” nonprofit organizations in Pinellas County.

Jake has worked in film and television in her native New York borough, Harlem, and will now become an Associate Producer on my film Growing Up Positive.  The film explores the lives of young people born with HIV, and others who acquired HIV. In Tampa Bay, HIV is increasingly impacting people of color – both black and Latino, but is still also affecting populations of gay white men.

We hope you follow our journey.

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