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United Way survey examines virus impact on working poor

The United Way of Pennsylvania is conducting an online survey on the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on people categorized as “Asset-Limited, Income-Constrained, Employed” (ALICE), or the working poor.

“ALICE represents the 24 percent of Pennsylvanians who work, but struggle to survive,” according to the United Way’s website.

Results of the survey will be used to inform how to best support Pennsylvania families throughout long-term recovery from the coronavirus pandemic and beyond, the website states.

“ALICE is your neighbor,” Ronald Frick, Lycoming County United Way president, said. “Anything we can do to assist ALICE benefits all of us. We just hope that people will complete the survey to give us some answers on the impact it has had on the folks that we know.”

The online survey asks questions regarding how many people are in a respondent’s home, personal concerns about the virus, whether they applied for assistance, income, demographic information and more.

“We know that it (COVID-19) has impacted ALICE,” Frick said. “If they were already suffering with food insecurity (or other issues), COVID just enhanced that.”

He added that United Way partners have seen an increase in case loads.

The survey has been sent to many people, including United Way donors and partners.

“We are hoping this survey will help guide policy,” Frick said.

Many organizations are looking at funding and how to provide information about assistance and Pennsylvania 2-1-1, which helps connect individuals and their families to local programs that help with necessities.

Frick also said the ALICE Refresh Report will come out this fall, as the most recent data was collected in 2017.

The 2017 Lycoming County data showed that, out of a population of 113,841, 30 percent of households fell into the category of ALICE, OR households that earn more than the federal poverty level but less than the basic cost of living for the county. Another 13 percent of households were below the federal poverty line.

In Williamsport, there were 11,253 households and 57 percent of them were either working poor or below the poverty line.

The 2017 data also showed that 29 percent of ALICE households were single or cohabiting incomes, 23 percent were families with children and 37 percent were aged 65 and over.

Many small and locally owned businesses countywide lack the accessibility to pay higher wages, Frick added.

To participate in the survey, visit bit.ly/UWPCOVID.

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