It is well known that Red River is a poor parish in a relatively poor state. Now a new study from the Louisiana Association of United Ways and it’s member United Way of Northwest Louisiana focuses on the “working poor” or those whose income barely covers the necessities of life. The report was released this week is ALICE, an acronym for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed.
The overview in a release from United Way of Northwest Louisiana states:
New research shows that in Louisiana, 828,255 households — 48 percent — could not afford basic needs such as housing, child care, food, transportation, health care, and technology in 2016, according to the ALICE Report for Louisiana released today by the Louisiana Association of United Ways, in partnership with Louisiana United Ways. In Northwest Louisiana, 28 percent of households are ALICE and 23 percent live in poverty as defined by the Federal Poverty guidelines.
The report “places a spotlight on a large population of hardworking residents who work at low-paying jobs, have little or no savings, and are one emergency from falling into poverty.”
The figures for Red River Parish indicate almost half of our families (49%) are in the “poverty” or ALICE category. There are 3491 households in the parish. 844 live in poverty and another 860 are in ALICE or the “working poor.” And that is something United Way of Northwest Louisiana is working to do something about.
The Journal spoke with Bruce Wilson, President and CEO of United Way of Northwest Louisiana. Wilson said, “We wanted to see what the status of the working poor was. We are refocusing the agency on this segment of society to create ladders to help them improve their lives.
Wilson cites the Dolly Parton Imagination Library is one program launched in Red River in August of 2017. Wilson said, “Children age birth to 5 years old enrolled in the program receive a book a month. There is no charge. They can be read to or begin reading on their own at a very young age.”
“Another program we launched is 2-1-1, to offer people real time help in a time of crisis,” Wilson added. In the near future Wilson said United Way would be offering financial counseling in the parish as the program now offered in Shreveport and Bossier expands. Another help citied by Wilson is offering free help getting their taxes done and tools to help people who are working and living paycheck-to-paycheck to get the job education needed in order to get better paying employment.
The full ALICE report may be accessed at https://unitedwaynwla.org/our-focus/financial-needs/alice/.