Nonprofit creates budget simulator in push for community-wide change on wages

‘Making Tough Choices’ online tool allows users to experience difficult choices families must make

SAN ANTONIO – A new online tool is letting people experience some of the difficult choices local families must make due to financial hardships.

“It’s critical for not only employers to look and see what are my staff, my employees are making, but the tough choices they are having to do,” Jason Aleman, vice president of Ready Children for United Way San Antonio said.

United Way of San Antonio and Bexar County recently launched an online budget simulator in the hopes it will encourage employers to commit to meaningful change related to wages.

“644,000 households here in Bexar County, 17% of those households are living below the federal poverty level. In addition to that, there is 35%, so you are talking about 150,000 households, that are living above the federal poverty level, but not making enough to make ends meet,” Aleman said.

The tool shows the decisions families are making from transportation, housing and childcare.

United Way of San Antonio says it is sharing the online tool and the data collected to local companies.

Local organizations like Goodwill San Antonio offer programs to help people looking to improve their economic stability.

At Good Careers Academy, they provide skill training to prepare people for in-demand occupations.

Angelique De Oliveira, Chief Mission Services Officer at Goodwill Industries, believes the new tool is critical for the community to understand what their neighbors are dealing with.

“Many of our clients are ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed). They may be in and out of employment or they may be in jobs that provide insufficient hours or no access to affordable benefits, as well as limited earnings which does not allow them to support themselves,” De Oliveira said.

Oliveira said it is time to take action.

“As employers we have a huge opportunity to look at how hiring practices and how we are more inclusive of all abilities and background and to invest in critical upscale programs that allows individuals to build skills and be ready to advance in current paths that can lead to those living wages,” Oliveira said.

About the Author

Tiffany Huertas is a reporter for KSAT 12 known for her in-depth storytelling and her involvement with the community.

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