United Way Reveals New Data that Illuminates the Growing Needs Among Working Families During Legislative Meet and Greet Event

Allentown, PA, May 25, 2023 — As we step onto the other side of the pandemic, we see that many working families are still struggling and need support. United Way of Pennsylvania (UWPA) unveiled a new report showing that 42% of Greater Lehigh Valley households are struggling to make ends meet. These households, called ALICE® (Asset-Limited, Income-Constrained, Employed), earn more than the federal poverty level, but still cannot afford basic necessities like housing, childcare and food.

On May 4, United Way of the Greater Lehigh Valley’s (UWGLV) Public Policy and Advocacy Committee hosted the bi-annual Legislative Meet and Greet in Allentown with state and local elected officials and nonprofit leaders. During the event, UWGLV and UWPA representatives presented the report and reviewed the policies in place to strengthen the regional nonprofit ecosystem to help the families still struggling. Over 75 guests attended the event including: Allentown School District Superintendent, Dr. Carol Birks, Representative Milou Mackenzie, Representative Zach Mako, Representative Jeanne McNeil, Representative Steve Samuelson, Jake Glessner on behalf of Senator Boscola and Sabrina McLaughlin on behalf of Senator Fetterman.

The report, ALICE in the Crosscurrents: COVID and Financial Hardship in Pennsylvania, released through United for ALICE®, reveals that 117,000 households – 42% of families in the Greater Lehigh Valley – are living in poverty or are struggling to afford the barebones essentials. They are working and paying taxes, but not earning enough to be financially stable.

Kim Amsler, Director of Mission Advancement at United Way of Pennsylvania and PA 211, also spoke to legislators and shared the most significant data points from the data report.

The findings demonstrate that the percentage of households considered ALICE has slightly decreased in Lehigh County but has risen in Northampton and Carbon counties. Carbon County bears the most significant rise in ALICE households, with a 12% increase from 2019. It also gave insight into financial stressors such as the end of pandemic assistance and increasing cost of basic needs.

The Legislative Meet and Greet gives the opportunity for policy makers to better understand UWGLV’s advocacy techniques for financially struggling families in our community. Through advocacy efforts, United Way supports a platform of polices that will make an immediate and lasting impact on families that are currently struggling to survive, including:

  • Expanding access to early childhood education
  • Eviction prevention and affordable housing initiatives
  • Strengthening the PA 211 network
  • Building awareness around mental health issues

Photo credit: Marco Calderon Photography