Chasing the Dream – Rural Poverty in the North Country (FULL BROADCAST)
Northern New York is inching dangerously close to having 50% of its families struggling to afford their basic needs. They are friends, neighbors, and co-workers who have jobs, but are still having a tough time getting by. Hardworking families are having to choose between paying for food or rent, child care or keeping their car on the road.
This week we are hosting an hour-long Community Forum focusing on how community partners and volunteers are stepping up to raise awareness and assist this growing, but hidden population.
We profile some of the individuals and families having to make those tough decisions. Their name is ALICE. ALICE isn’t a person, but an acronym. Families that are, Asset Limited, Income Constrained, and Employed. ALICE is the United Way’s shorthand for the working poor. They are friends, and neighbors we see every day at work, the store, or our kid’s soccer game. They are people who have jobs, work full-time, and yet are struggling to get by. Many are just a single paycheck or illness away from financial crisis. ALICE is the hidden face of poverty in New York.
The United Way for the Adirondack Region did in-depth analysis of the cost-of-living in the North Country and income needed to afford the most basic of necessities. It’s 300-page report on ALICE families calls attention to the growing numbers of working poor.
Joining us to talk about the ALICE report are John Bernardi, CEO of the United Way for the Adirondack Region that covers Clinton, Essex and Franklin Counties; New York State Assemblyman Billy Jones, who represents the 115th Assembly District which covers Clinton & Franklin Counties; Sylvie Nelson is the Executive Director of the North Country Workforce Development Board, a United Way Board Member, and a member of the United Way’s ALICE Steering Committee; And Mark Hamilton is the Executive Director of the Plattsburgh Housing Authority. The report provides an eye-opening new picture of poverty in New York. We talk with a single mother of two children who falls into the ALICE category, and highlight school backpack programs that have started in several communities to try to help ALICE families.