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Walking the fine line between poverty and financial hardship

Written by Anna Sirianni, Associate Producer | Jul 10, 2019 4:00 AM
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What to look for on Smart TalkWednesday, July 10, 2019:

Many households struggle with finances but don't qualify for public assistance. These families walk a financial tightrope and are one emergency away from poverty or severe hardship.

The United Way of Pennsylvania uses the ALICE report to gauge financial hardship. ALICE stands for Asset Limited, Income Constrained and Employed. People who fall into the ALICE category are earning money above the federal poverty level, but don't make enough to pay for essentials like housing, food, childcare, transportation, or future savings. ALICE households across Pennsylvania struggle to find affordable housing and community resources in the same county where they work. 

The United Way of Pennsylvania brought the ALICE report to the state. Local groups like the United Way of the Capital Region are using ALICE data to launch community programs to support ALICE households in Cumberland, Dauphin and Perry Counties. 

When combined with households below the poverty level, in total, 1,856,785 households in Pennsylvania ⁠-- 37% ⁠-- struggled to meet their basic needs in 2017.

Small business owners and workers often fall into the ALICE category because small businesses are more vulnerable to changes in demand, price of materials, transportation costs, cyberattacks and natural disasters.

Joining us on Wednesday's Smart Talk to discuss the ALICE report and helping Pennsylvanians living in the financial margins are Kristin Rotz, president of United Way of Pennsylvania, Tim Fatzinger, president of United Way of the Capital Region, and Gene Barr, CEO of the PA Chamber of Business and Industry.

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(Front to back) Kristin Rotz, Tim Fatzinger and Gene Barr

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