Report from United Way shows over 40 percent of Lane County is “living off the bare minimum”

One in five Lane County households are at or below the federal poverty line — but another 23 percent above that line still don’t earn enough to meet the basic costs of living, according to a new study released by United Way of Lane County.

In all, 43 percent of Lane County households struggle to meet those basic costs, according to a new report dubbed ALICE. That’s an acronym for Asset-­Limited, Income-Constrained, Employed.

The report also assesses the percentage of households in each of Lane County’s cities who are either below the federal poverty line, or above the line but below the ALICE “threshold.”

The city with the highest percentage of households below the ALICE level was Florence, at 51 percent. The coastal city of Dunes City was the lowest, at 34 percent.

Half of all households in Cottage Grove are beneath the ALICE threshold, the study found.

“This is a call to action,” said Elena Fracchia, director of income and engagement for United Way of Lane County, who helped compile the report.

The four main issues identified by the study as factors that keep many Pacific Northwest households in the ALICE realm are a large number of low-wage jobs, a high cost of living, a difficulty finding jobs near housing, and a lack of sufficient public and private assistance to meet needs.

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By Junnelle Hogan, The Register-Guard