Pathways to Stability

What is Pathways to Stability?

In partnership with Catholic Charities, United Way is embarking a pilot project to help increase stability for school-age children and their families. Over the next two years, United Way will invest $300,000 to tackle this difficult issue through the Pathways to Stability Initiative. Through intense case management centered on their individual needs, struggling families will:

  • Receive financial literacy classes for both parents and children.
  • Participate in a six-nine month program to become more financially stable and achieve financial goals. 
  • Program and case plan around the specific needs and goals of each individual family.

The Project aims to achieve the following 

  • Low to moderate income workers are equipped with the knowledge and skills needed to maintain family stability
  • Low to moderate income workers have increased financial stability
  • School-aged children and their families live in stable housing

This project will increase the housing and financial stability of families in Monterey County. Other specific components of this program include:

  • Comprehensive case management services for families while connecting them with programs and services that will increase the likelihood of their maintaining stable housing, including income support programs such as Covered California, CalFresh and VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance).
  • Direct financial assistance at program admission and after completing six months goals. Financial assistance goes towards a portion of the following: First month of rent, monthly rent, electricity, gas, water, or matching savings account.
  • Financial education and coaching to eligible families.

UWMC will also work to increase awareness and foster a public will for action regarding family homlessness in Monterey County.

Financial Literacy is provided through Wells Fargo’s Hands on Banking curriculum. Learning practical and applicable smart money skills such as banking, saving, budgeting, and credit management. This process educates and empowers families to make smarter financial decisions that will allow them to become more financially and housing stable in the future.

United Way has refocused its efforts on three areas; they are health, income, and education. Many families in Monterey County are teetering on the edge of financial instability.

  • Families struggle to get their basic needs met, which is an index to measure poverty that takes into account access to the minimum amount of food, shelter and clothing required to survive.

There are multiple indexes for measuring poverty.

  • Children food insecurity rate in Monterey County is 23.0%.[1].
  • Free and reduced school lunches is another index to measure poverty. 70.0% of student in Monterey County School Districts are eligible for free school meals.[2]

The high cost of housing and low wage paying service sector jobs increase the need for affordable housing in Monterey County.

To learn more about the Pathways to Stability program, contact Julie Arze at or (831)393-3110


1. What is affordable housing in Monterey County?

2. Self-sufficiency for Monterey County?

3. What is my self-sufficiency matrix?

4. How does United Way know there is a need in our community?

1) What is affordable housing in Monterey County?


Affordable housing is considered to be less than 30% of an individual’s household income. Monterey County has some of the highest cost of living in the country. Despite the great amount of wealth that is in the Monterey County, many families spend over 35% of their income on rent and utilities to survive. Low paying jobs in the service, sales and agricultural sectors and a high cost of living drives more and more to living pay check to pay check.

If you make $11.00 an hour, the current minimum wage, you should be paying no more than $612 a month on housing and utilities for it to be considered affordable. In Monterey County, 12.9% of county own their own home, 37.9% of homeowners are paying on a mortgage, and 49.1% are renters.[3] In 2015, more than 47.2% of households spend more than 35% of their income on housing and utilities.[4]

A lack of shelter affects all three focus areas. In the area of education, “stable affordable housing may reduce the frequency of unwanted moves that lead children to experience disruptions in home life or educational instruction.”[5] A lack of adequate housing or shelter can lead to poor health results for children and adults. Individuals experiencing homelessness experience a higher rate of illness.  

In Monterey County, one in four children under the age of 5, lives below the poverty line.[6]


2) Self-sufficiency for Monterey County?


The self-sufficiency matrix measures individual’s ability to care for themselves without having to rely on public or private assistant. Individuals do not want to just survive above the poverty line, they want to be social/economically self-sufficient. Self-Sufficiency Matrix measures the economic well-being of families.  

In Monterey County the Federal Poverty Line is $12,140,[7] the Self-Sufficient Standard is $27,018.[8] That is a gap of over $14,000 between the poverty line and being social/economically self-sufficient. For a family of four to cover their basic needs in Monterey County will need to earn $69,809 a year. 

To measure a family’s level of self-sufficient the number of income earners is taken into consideration. A single parent of one child will need to earn nearly $28.59.[10] an hour in Alameda County to survive off of government aid. That same single parent of one will need to earn more than $20.16 an hour in Fresno County, and nearly $28.88 an hour in Los Angeles County.[11]


3) What is my self-sufficiency matrix?

Insight Center for Community Economic Development offers a Self-Sufficiency Standard Tool for Californians to measure self-sufficiency. In Monterey County, a family of four would need to earn $90,368 to be economically self-sufficient[12]. That is the equivalent of four fulltime minimum wage jobs.


4) How does United Way know there is a need in our community?


Through our Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) service and the Stuff the Bus school supply drive, United Way realized that there is a subset of children who are part of families in which the adults are employed and can sustain a monthly rent with their salaries. However, they cannot save enough to pay the upfront costs required to move their families into a stable housing situation. These families are the focus of our pilot project.

[1], Children Living in Food Insecure Household,

[2] California Dept. of Education, Free/Reduced Price Meals Program & CalWORKS Data Files (Feb. 2015); U.S. Dept. of Education, NCES Digest of Education Statistics and NCES Online Query System (Feb. 2015),

[3] U.S. Census Bureau American Fact Finder 2010 Data

[4] U.S. Census Bureau American Fact Finder 2010-2014 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates

[5] Maya Brennan, “The Impact of Affordable Housing on Education: A Research Summary”, Insights from Housing Policy, (Center for Housing Policy May 2011), 1,

[6] U.S. Census Bureau American Fact Finder 2010-2014 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates

[7] Federal Poverty Level (FPL),  (June, 2018).

[8] Self-Sufficiency Standard Tool for California, (June, 2018).

[10] Ibid.

[11] Ibid.

[12] Ibid.