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Southern Nevada's Missing Middle can't find assistance in existing system

Posted at 10:36 AM, Jun 27, 2022
and last updated 2022-06-27 14:43:59-04

You don't need to be below the poverty line to feel the pain of inflation. Prices are getting so bad, it's also hurting the middle class. This week, 13 Action News looks at the issue and where to go for help, in a series we call the Missing Middle.

"It's tough. It's tough for a number of reasons," says Aaron Stewart.

He's making some lifestyle changes. He says inflation has him seeing things differently.


"The American dream was the white picket fence, the house. I'm not sure if I'll ever own a house," says Aaron.

This single-father of three, recently had to move in with his mother. Aaron says his apartment was getting too expensive.

"In two years, it went from $800 a month for a two-bedroom apartment that I was living in, up to $1,100 a month," says Aaron.

Aaron's grateful for his mom's help, but admits it is hard.

"You know, three bouncing young ladies who want to jump and play. But we also have to take into consideration that we're living in somebody else's home," says Aaron.


But inflation doesn't just impact his living situation. Aaron has also put his dream of owning his own business on hold.

"I have to go back to a full-time job to make ends meet," says Aaron.

Aaron owns his own coffee cart company. But inflation was taking a huge bite out of his profits.

"Every dollar has to go towards milk, which is higher now, flavors which has gone up, as well as even ice," says Aaron.

On top of higher grocery prices, Aaron was feeling the pain at the gas pump.

"When it's $115 to fill up the tank, sometimes you go out there to sell, and you're not making just the gas that it took you to get there," says Aaron.


But there's another issue. Like thousands of other middle class valley residents, Aaron tried getting help, but hit a major road block.

"I made too much money to get any type of assistance, which doesn't feel like you make too much money. But you make too much money for anything as far as SNAP benefits, welfare, housing," says Aaron.

Aaron is part of the Missing Middle. A group unable to find the help they need in the existing system. Aaron isn't rich, but he makes too much money to qualify for government assistance.

"The fact that I make pretty decent money that works against me to be able to get on these programs. So it doesn't make sense because I don't think I make that much money, especially if we're struggling," says Aaron.


"I believe that Aaron is not alone... almost across the board requests and the need is up," says President and CEO Julian High with United Way of Southern Nevada.

He says 64-percent of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck. But the rise in inflation now means 20-percent of those people don't have enough to make ends meet.

The good news is, High says necessary changes are being made to get Southern Nevada's middle class the help they need.

"I think just as America and Las Vegans always do, we have made some adjustments and there is a possibility for resources for people that maybe they didn't know about before because the landscape has changed," says High.

That's welcomed news for Aaron who says he'll take any help he can to get. But he says until then, despite everything, he and his family can still count themselves fortunate.

"You know, I'm not sure what that new normal is, but we're healthy, we're happy. We just have to readjust our expectations," says Aaron.