Increasing number of people in SWLA can’t make ends meet

Published: Jul. 5, 2023 at 6:48 PM CDT|Updated: Jul. 5, 2023 at 7:13 PM CDT
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Lake Charles, LA (KPLC) - You don’t have to be a researcher to figure out that you cannot buy as much at the grocery store with the same amount of money. But those who study such issues find that there are a growing number of people struggling.

ALICE is an acronym that stands for asset limited, income constrained, employed. They are people commonly called the working poor.

For example, Jennifer Pinder of Starks lost her food stamps and then could not pay her electric bill.

”Either put food in the house for the kids so they can eat and everything and pay what I can on the bills or pay the bills and not put food in the house,” said Pinder in a June 21 interview. Her electricity has since been restored.

Laurie Martin with United Way of Southwest Louisiana said such people often cannot meet their family’s basic needs.

“These are families that don’t know, they are just one flat tire away from a crisis, is the best way for us to explain it. They are barely getting ends to meet. Schools are going to start in August and these are the families that don’t quite qualify for some of these services from federal and state, so they fall through the cracks,” said Martin.

The ALICE index tracks the rising cost of basic needs including housing, childcare, food, healthcare, transportation, and a basic smartphone plan. She said the greatest need right now is housing and utilities.

United Way uses the data to allocate resources and develop new initiatives. For instance, a new program is called “Matched Savings.” For those who qualify, dollars saved each month will be matched.

“That program, not only do you have to save each month to be eligible for the match, but you also have to attend financial literacy courses. Most of these classes are one on one financial coaching,” she said.

Martin encouraged faith-based groups and others to read the ALICE report to better understand the needs in Southwest Louisiana. The ALICE report can be found HERE.