Report: 42 percent of households in Dan River Region struggling to afford basics
According to a report this month by the United Way, 42 percent of households in Danville and Pittsylvania County have incomes that are too low to afford the basics including housing, food, transpiration and health care.
United Way chapters of Virginia commissioned the Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed report, or ALICE for short.
While ALICE households earn above the federal poverty level, it isn’t enough to afford a “basic household” budget, according to the report.
“This report is now a call to action,” Kelly Fitzgerald, United Way of Danville-Pittsylvania County Board chairwoman, said in a statement.
The median household income in the city of Danville is $32,315. The median household income in Pittsylvania County is $41,824.
The Federal Poverty Level reports 19 percent of combined Danville and Pittsylvania County households are below the poverty level. An additional 23 percent qualify as ALICE homes.
“When households cannot make ends meet, they are forced to make difficult choices such as forgoing health care, accredited child care, healthy food or car insurance,” a statement from the United Way of Danville-Pittsylvania County said.
For a single adult, the poverty level is $11,770 of annual income. For a family of four, it is $24,250.
The basic survival budget includes the actual costs of necessities such as housing, child care, food, transportation and health care. For Danville, that budget would be $16,980 for a single adult, and $48,840 for a family of four.
This bare-minimum budget does not allow for savings, according to the report, leaving the household vulnerable for unexpected expenses.
Based on the report, 24 percent of Danville households are in poverty, and an additional 25 percent are ALICE households compared to 16 percent of county households in poverty, and 21 percent considered ALICE households.
Combining the city and county puts the total number of households unable to afford the basics at 42 percent.
The budget would be the same in Pittsylvania County for a single adult, but $50,412 for a family of four.
Across Virginia, 39 percent of households are in poverty or ALICE households, according to the report. Percentages of households below the ALICE threshold range from 22 percent in Falls Church City to 66 percent in Petersburg City and Radford County.
“ALICE can be a new graduate just starting out in life, a young family, or a retiree,” United Way of Danville-Pittsylvania County President Phillip Haley said in a statement.
There is no “typical” ALICE household, according to the report.
United Way has three areas of focus — funding partner agencies, doing assessments such as the ALICE report, and funding initiatives with partner organizations such as the Health Collaborative. The Danville-Pittsylvania chapter was also a partner on the Health Equity Report and the Regional Report Card.
Many of the organizations that United Way partners with, such as PATHS, Danville-Pittsylvania Community Services, the Red Cross, Danville Church-Based Tutorial, and the Boys and Girls Club will offer their services “regardless of ability to pay,” according to Petty.
Virginia is the 14th state to create an ALICE report, through cooperation between 23 of 28 United Way chapters across the state, including Martinsville and Lynchburg.
Research was led by Stephanie Hoopes, United Way ALICE Project national director.
“A really big thing that stood out to me was that this report worked so well with the health needs assessment. What you can’t find in the health needs assessment, you can find in ALICE,” United Way Director of Community Impact and Operations Traci Petty said. “It helps to give a complete assessment of what Danville and Pittsylvania County is looking at.”
The ALICE report goes deeper into the poverty aspect that was revealed in the Danville Regional Foundation’s Health Equity Report, released a few weeks ago. Poverty, cost of care, access to care, insecurity and transportation were all common health issues brought up in the report.
“I think that the reports are truly companion documents,” Danville Regional Foundation’s Annie Martinie said. “I think they work well together to paint a picture with the issues we face in our region.”
Food insecurity is defined as not having access to enough food to live an active and healthy lifestyle. According to the Health Equity Report, 13.1 percent of adults in Pittsylvania County are insecure about food, and 59 percent are eligible for SNAP, which was formerly known as food stamps. In order to bring all residents out of being insecure about food, it would take $4.37 million.
Danville has the second highest rate of food insecure households in Virginia at 21.5 percent of households. The highest is Petersburg city.
“This report, and its county-by-county analysis in particular, prevents people from dismissing the data as ‘someone else’s problem’ by proving that those impacted are our friends and neighbors,” David J. Urso said in the news release.
Martinie was impressed with how many organizations are working on reports such as these.“I think it shows that organizations are dedicated to understanding what’s really happening in our region. It’s gonna take all of us working together and a lot of time to reverse some of these trends that we’re seeing.”
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