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ALICE report serves as warning that help is needed

One random, run of the mill breakdown — of a vehicle, a hot water heater or a furnace — could spell doom for too many Pennsylvanians, including thousands of households in the Valley, wobbling on the financial benefit cliff.

The United Way of Pennsylvania recently released the ALICE report — Asset-Limited, Income-Constrained, Employed — an initiative of the state’s United Ways to raise awareness of the challenges faced by working families. Just as important, the report is a call to action for organizations and individuals to mobilize and support strategies and policies.

According to the statewide report, 1.2 million Pennsylvania households earn more than the federal poverty level but not enough to pay for housing, food, transportation and child care on a consistent basis. Including households living below the federal poverty level, the number jumps to 1.8 million, or 37 percent, of Pennsylvania households.

Locally the numbers are similar: At least 37 percent of the households in each county are at or below the ALICE threshold. These are hard-working families, our neighbors, who are on the brink. The ALICE report serves as a reminder that many of our neighbors face daily challenges even when the car is running fine or the refrigerator is cold. Add in one slight mishap and real trouble can begin.

“ALICE represents a large portion of hard-working Pennsylvanians who are essential to the local and state economy,” said GSVUW CEO Joanne Troutman. “ALICE individuals are relied upon to be the backbones of corporations, offering their support on a daily basis. Understanding the struggles and needs of ALICE is crucial in achieving permanent financial stability.”

The United Way’s Local Vision Project, which seeks grants and promotes workforce development is a way the group can promote self-sufficiency and financial stability, one of the United Way’s Priorities for Impact.

“The biggest problem is these families do not qualify for services,” said Troutman. “The Local Vision Project is privately funded. It’s something that helps serve basic needs of families in crisis situations, such as the closure of Wood-Mode, or someone who has a heart attack or on maternity leave but has no shortterm disability or savings. How many of us can go without a paycheck or two?”

In the Valley, that number is smaller than most of us should be comfortable with. ALICE serves as a reminder that our neighbors are in need.

NOTE: Opinions expressed in The Daily Item’s editorials are the consensus of the publisher and top newsroom executives. Today’s was written by Managing Editor Bill Bowman.

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