ST. PETERSBURG – At a time when 46 percent of Pinellas and Hillsborough households earn less than the basic cost of living, the ongoing tide of lost and reduced services is making financial challenges even more difficult to deal with. While the impact is felt in virtually every neighborhood and by families that have never dealt with it before, south St. Petersburg residents have confronted this situation for longer than most.
Next Tues., Oct. 20, they will have a chance to describe their challenges as the Family Town Hall Series moves to the Childs Park YMCA, 691 43rd St. S, St. Pete.
This is the first of at least three forums in this current series. It is the 35th to be held in Pinellas and Hillsborough counties since 2013. Others have already been scheduled for Oct 29 at the Greater Palm River Point CDC in eastern Hillsborough County, and the North Greenwood Center in Clearwater on Nov. 19. At least two more will be in place before the fall series concludes.
Earlier forums have largely focused on the plight of seniors who not only have trouble making ends meet on fixed incomes that can force them to choose between food, utilities, and or medicine, but are often unable to deal with health challenges. However, the encroaching scope of budget cuts continues to target individuals, families and children based on their vulnerability, not simply because of financial or cultural factors.
“It’s an unfortunate fact that artificial austerity is inflicted on the people who can afford it least, but whose situations are ignored the most,” said For The Family Administrator W. Ward Cox.
He added that the only way to correct this shameful reality is for those who are unfairly targeted to raise their voices. “We not only need to hear from the people who are most at risk, but the agencies that serve their needs despite being caught in the same budget cutting net.”
They are also hoping to offer expertise from people skilled in helping Series participants secure the services they are entitled to. If you or your organization wishes to become involved, please contact Cox at Alfolk@aol.com or by calling (813) 932-1477 at your earliest convenience.
Series partners include Neighborly Care Network, Pastors On Patrol, the Pinellas-Pasco Area Agency on Aging and the Upper Pinellas Ministerial Alliance.