SUNBURY – The United Way of Pennsylvania recently launched the ALICE project…It‘s an initiative to raise awareness of those who earn more than the federal poverty level, but still don’t have enough to pay for basic necessitates.
Joanne Troutman, President and CEO of the Greater Susquehanna Valley United Way, talked to WKOK about its report for Northumberland, Snyder and Union counties. Troutman says the most surprising number is 47% of Union County’s population lives below the ALICE threshold because of the county’s cost of living, “The one thing this ALICE report really does, is to take into account the cost of living based on geography, the cost of living and higher, in particular housing costs tend to be a little higher and Union County is a really desirable place to live.”
In other numbers, 40% of Northumberland Counties population lives below the ALICE threshold, while 41% of Snyder County’s population live below the ALICE line. Troutman says those numbers show the challenges facing families in rural communities, “We’re starting to have a lot of conversations at the state level, about things like child care and transportation, that really sheds light on the issues facing working families to prevent the challenges that our communities are facing are somewhat unique, although we know from the data that we’ve done, at the state level, ALICE lives in every level zip code across the state.”
Troutman says the United Way’s next step is to go to funders and the community, stressing the need to help working families, “There are a number of programs and projects we’re looking at, social work and financial counseling type programs as well as transportation programs. If you look at the data, child care is the top expense for families with young children. So, this has been our passion and mission for a really long time”
In overall state numbers, 1.2 million PA households are below the ALICE line. When the number of households living below the federal poverty level are added, it is 1.8 million people.