BATON ROUGE, La. (BRPROUD) — New studies released by United For ALICE show lots of people are falling through the cracks when it comes to accessing resources.
Having too much and not enough is a tricky economic situation to be in for many families across the state. Capital Area United Way found that a large portion of families are living paycheck to paycheck, with children getting the short end of the stick.
“This [report] gives us a chance to drive impact in ways that are way beyond correcting something or addressing something at the end of the process,” said Capital Area United Way President and CEO George Bell.
He said their 2019 report shows that 49 percent of families are low-wage earners, with a majority being Black and Latino. However, 31 percent are cut off from vital public assistance and other resources like Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits and Medicaid.
Bell said they’ve identified these individuals as living below the ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained and Employed) threshold. This is for families who live above the federal poverty line but still can’t afford the basic necessities.
This also impacts children within these households. According to the ALICE in Focus: Children report, “57 percent of Louisiana’s children live below the ALICE Threshold, with income that doesn’t meet the basic costs of housing, child care, health care, transportation and a smartphone plan.”
“Stress and the emotional toll that this takes on children, especially around hunger and things like that, plays a role in how well they do in school,” Bell explained.
“When I see this report again, I’m initially hurt, saddened, and upset. I mean, I get angry, you know, when I think about history. And then I keep reading and I think about it. There are ways that we can combat this,” said Baton Rouge Youth Coalition Chief of Staff Josh Howard. “For our families, they already come bright, incredibly intelligent, and incredibly motivated to thrive at life. They’re just under-resourced because of so many systemic barriers.”
The report also provides a way for a solution, by helping to establish grants and funding nonprofits, like the Baton Rouge Youth Coalition, who will help bridge the gap.
“We provide full wraparound services. So those include mental health counseling. We provide meals for our families when they come to our programs Monday through Thursday, we also provide hotspots,” said Howard.
“We’re able to develop policy and in our case, some programing and support programming that addresses issues,” added Bell.
Bell said the ALICE threshold is such a delicate place to be because one badly dealt card could mean game over.
“One missed paycheck, one auto repair can take a person who is above the poverty line and throw them under the poverty line,” he explained.
The ALICE report for 2020-2021 will be released next year, which could really show the impact the pandemic has had on ALICE families.
“If that, resonates with you, that that you feel you can make a difference… by all means, step up and step into a role that will allow you to help and be an assistance to them. There’s never enough resources, especially coming out of a pandemic like we’ve had the last two years,” stated Bell.
If you need resources you can call 2-1-1 or 225-923-2114. To donate or volunteer to help families in need of resources, click here.