Lehigh County Health & Medicine Winter 2019 - 18

FEATURE

"ALICE workers are crucial to our economy,
yet they are struggling to survive," said Priscilla
Rosado, Assistant Director of Food Access
and Emergency Services at the United Way
of the Greater Lehigh Valley. "They are health
care workers, office workers, retail staff, or
the people who take care of our children and
elderly. They live in every county, city, town,
and borough in our region."
According to the ALICE data, in 2017, 40
percent of Pennsylvania households did not
have any savings for a rainy day or emergency.
This means that these households are often one
illness or emergency away from financial crisis.
An unexpected hospital trip or medical bill can
have immediate and far-reaching consequences
and budgets are so tight that families are forced
to choose between buying groceries, paying
for prescriptions, or paying rent.
ALICE in Lehigh County
The latest ALICE data, collected in 2017,
shows that over one in three households in
Lehigh County are struggling to afford basic
needs. Eleven percent of households are at or
below the federal poverty level, and 26% of
households are ALICE - making too much
income to qualify for aid, but not enough to
become financially stable.

With support from Turning Point Lehigh
Valley and New Bethany, Elizabeth is now
feeling energized, happy and strong, and
looks forward to moving into her own place
with three of her children. "I'm picking up
all the broken pieces and putting them back
together," she said.
But even though she works between 50-60
hours a week in a job she loves, Elizabeth is
still challenged with making ends meet.
"Paycheck to paycheck - that's how it is," she
said. "Every paycheck I get goes to room and
board. Here, thirty percent goes to savings, so
that I can move out with my children. And
there's nothing left."

18 Lehigh County Health & Medicine | WINTER 2019

All across our region, families like Elizabeth's
are working hard but still walking a financial
tightrope. With data from a new statewide
project called ALICE, we now know that
more than one in three families in our region
is struggling to afford the barebones essentials.
This data project was launched by the United
Way of Pennsylvania and supported by a
network of statewide United Ways, including
the United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley.

The ALICE data project also provides data
on how much it actually costs to live in each
county, city and town in Pennsylvania. For
a family of four with one preschooler and
one infant living in Lehigh County, a basic
survival budget is $64,800. This budget is
truly barebones - it doesn't include any extra
for a cell phone, or cable or car repairs. For this
family of four to achieve a degree of financial
security, their yearly household income would
need to be $105,768.

"The median household income in Lehigh
County is $60,871. If it costs over $100,000
a year for a family of four with small children
ALICE stands for Asset-Limited, In- to be financially stable in Lehigh County, we
come-Constrained, Employed. This term are looking at a huge gap," said Rosado.
describes households who are above the federal
poverty level, but who don't make enough
The ALICE data also shines a light on
money for their basic needs. They are working the number of ALICE households in each
and paying taxes, but not earning enough to city, town, or borough in Lehigh County. In
be financially stable.
Whitehall Township, for example, the number



Lehigh County Health & Medicine Winter 2019

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https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/LehighCountyHealth_Medicine/LCHM_Summer21
https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/LehighCountyHealth_Medicine/LCHM_Spring21
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https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/LehighCountyHealth_Medicine/LCHM_Spring20
https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/LehighCountyHealth_Medicine/LCHM_Winter19
https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/LehighCountyHealth_Medicine/LCHM_Fall19
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https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/LehighCountyHealth_Medicine/LCHM_Fall18
https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/LehighCountyHealth_Medicine/LCHMSummer18
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https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/LehighCountyHealth_Medicine/Fall2017
https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/LehighCountyHealth_Medicine/LCHMSummer2017
https://www.nxtbook.com/hoffmann/LehighCountyHealth_Medicine/LCHMSpring2017
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