by: Tenikka Smith Updated:
CHARLOTTE - "We have a widening gap between the have and the have nots," said Community Link President and CEO Floyd Davis.
The Charlotte area has a great reputation for attracting companies that pay high salaries to college-educated workers. However, Davis said the city has a major need for service sector, blue-collar jobs that pay between $16 and $30 an hour.
He said right now, 40 percent of people in the region earn $14 an hour or less.
Davis said, "Such a large segment of our population that are really just hanging on."
Alice Gnoma has 20 grandchildren who in turn have 22 children of their own.
She said working to take care of their families takes a lot out of their pockets.
"All they do is make money, buy groceries, pay rent, pay utilities and then they're broke," Gnoma said.
Community Link and its partners offer a number of services to low- and moderate income workers, including free tax preparation, which kicks off Saturday.
Davis said the volunteer tax preparers will especially focus on making sure families who qualify take advantage of the Earned Income Tax Credit. It reduces the amount of taxes owed to the federal government based on income level and number of dependents.
For example, Community Link said a single mother of one who earns just under $21,000 a year is eligible for an $1,800 tax credit. Most people get the credit in the form of a refund.
Gnoma said, "One stimulus for a lot of people -- that's their only way of getting ahead a little bit."
There's a possibility more people could become eligible in the future. In his State of the Union Address earlier this week, President Barack Obama proposed expanding the Earned Income Tax Credit to low -income workers without children.
For more information on locations and times for the free tax preparation click here.