Basic Needs

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Families and individuals must have a safe home with healthy food for everyone who lives there in order to work toward a higher degree of prosperity.

Food on the table. A safe and secure place to call “home.” These are basic needs for everyone in the Richmond and Petersburg region. Unfortunately, many of our friends and neighbors are unable to provide these essentials for themselves or their families. Many more residents live at risk, living month to month in situations where a sudden job loss or health crisis could be devastating.

Covering these basic needs is the first step on the path to success. We are committed to helping everyone get there.

Basic Needs: By the Numbers

The challenges of living below poverty thresholds, combined with housing costs and other factors, create living situations that can become unmanageable for many households. People who live in low-income households often must choose between essential needs like housing, food and health care.

As of 2015, 11.7% of the population (129,684 people) in our region were living below the poverty thresholds.

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Research shows that poverty can have long lasting effects on children’s health and development. Children living in families with income below the poverty thresholds are less likely to have adequate and healthy food, regular medical and dental care, or attend a quality preschool. This puts them at greater risk of not being ready for kindergarten, not reading at grade-level or not graduating high school on time.

As of 2015, 15.9% of the children (39,300 children) in our region were living below the poverty threshold.

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The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) requires communities to conduct periodic counts of people experiencing homelessness. This data is compiled both locally and nationally to inform planning, programs and funding. Homeward, the planning and coordinating organization for homeless services in the Greater Richmond region, coordinates a point-in-time count of people experiencing homelessness each January.

As of January 2017, 662 people in our region are experiencing homelessness.

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In 2016, our region’s Group A Crime Incident Rate was 55.8 Group A crimes per 1,000 residents.

Group A crimes include murder, manslaughter, kidnapping, forcible sex offenses, robbery, aggravated assault, simple assault/intimidation, arson, extortion/blackmail, burglary, larceny, motor vehicle theft, counterfeiting/forgery, fraud, embezzlement, stolen property, vandalism, drug/narcotic offenses, non-forcible sex offences, pornography, gambling, prostitution, bribery and weapon law violations.

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Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) such as abuse, neglect and family dysfunction have been proven to inhibit healthy brain development in children and to have long-term and long-lasting ramifications for individuals and families—ramifications that impact the entire community.

In 2016, there were 316 cases of child abuse and neglect in our region.

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While many of us are fortunate enough not to worry about our next meal, too many of our friends and neighbors are not as lucky. Across the region, many residents are struggling to afford next week’s groceries and find themselves wondering how they are going to feed themselves and their families. This uncertainty creates stress and anxiety that makes it difficult, if not impossible, to focus on other things, like maintaining a job or preparing for school.

In 2015, our region’s food insecurity rate was 13.0%, for a total of 145,117 food insecure individuals.

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What We Do

United Way of Greater Richmond & Petersburg funds programs that address the core challenges preventing people from meeting their basic needs: poverty, homelessness, crime and access to food. We mobilize individuals and organizations to tackle these problems head-on, both at the individual and systemic levels.

How You Can Help

  • Donate. Give to United Way of Greater Richmond & Petersburg. Let us know you want your gift to help families and individuals cover these basic needs.
  • Volunteer. Want to lend your time to supporting these efforts? Send us an email and we will help match you with the right opportunity. Or visit our Events page to see our existing opportunities.