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United Way releases financial hardship study amid COVID-19

Published: Jul. 22, 2020 at 7:14 PM EDT
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) - Coronavirus is impacting almost all aspects of our lives. For those already in tough times, a new report shows COVID-19 will be devastating.

The United Way released state-wide data Wednesday.

The data show COVID-19 is only exasperating the financial hardships some were already dealing with before the pandemic. “These numbers that we’re seeing in ALICE aren’t even close to what were going to see in months or even years,” explained Dawn Wise, the director of community engagement. “This is going to be a 2008 event,” she added.

Wise serves on the Steering Committee for the state’s ALICE, or Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed, report.

The report pulls local data, identifying those in poverty and those typically overlooked who still struggle.

The state average of those facing financial hardships is 39 percent.

According to the data, Lynchburg and Radford are tied for the highest in the state at 67 percent. “Franklin at 40 percent, Roanoke City is at 57 percent, Salem is at 49 percent,” added Abby Hamilton, the president and CEO of United Way of the Roanoke Valley.

Hamilton says financial turmoil impacts every community.

“What are the industries in our community that are actually earning below that ALICE threshold? We already know they are in the food service industry, the service industry, so, think about the businesses that have had to close and have had to be impacted over the last few months, these are the same people that were struggling before and so they’re struggling even more so now,” Hamilton said.

Leaders say to help mitigate the impending economic downfall, more emphasis needs to be placed on things like affordable housing, transportation and systemic racism. “These are things that United Way can’t always change, but the power players in our community can,” Wise said.

Leaders say raising awareness and identifying resources is a start in helping those struggling financially.

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