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United Way Report Finds More Than One Third of Cook County Residents Struggle to Afford Basic Cost of Living

United Way Report Finds More Than One Third of Cook County Residents Struggle to Afford Basic Cost of Living

Data from 2022 shows Illinois households continue to face financial challenges post-pandemic

CHICAGO, June 21, 2024 /PRNewswire/ — Thirty-five percent of Cook County households live below the ALICE Threshold or in poverty, according to data reported by United Way of Metro Chicago and included in the 2024 United for ALICE report. The report, which is based on the latest data from 2022, shows an increase in ALICE and poverty-level households from 34% in 2019. This latest figure represents 748,776 of Cook County’s 2.1 million households that are struggling financially.

ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) is a measurement of how many households earn above the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) but cannot afford the basic cost of living in their county. Though ALICE households struggle to make ends meet, they do not qualify for public assistance and fall behind on measures of financial health like paying off debt and saving for retirement.

“The ALICE threshold is a vital guide for letting us know where our neighbors need help,” said Sean Garrett, President and CEO of United Way of Metro Chicago. “Through this report and through programs like 211 Metro Chicago, we are hearing firsthand about the challenges people are facing to meet their needs today and plan for a financially sound future. As more and more families in our communities struggle with financial hardship, United Way of Metro Chicago wants to be a part of the solution by partnering with the City of Chicago and Cook County and supporting the organizations that are working to combat income inequality to ensure our neighbors’ needs are met.”

From 2019 to 2022, the number of households in Cook County living below the ALICE Threshold increased by 63,813. More Cook County residents are struggling to afford basic necessities such as housing, childcare, food, transportation and health care since the COVID-19 pandemic due in part to inflation, rising costs and diminished public aid, despite wage increases.

“This data serves as a reminder that there is still a lot of work to be done in creating true equity across Cook County,” said Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle. “United Way of Metro Chicago and 211 Metro Chicago are leading the charge in identifying where support is needed and directing resources to those households. We are thrilled to work with them to create positive change for all our residents.”

United Way of Metro Chicago and 211 Metro Chicago work closely with community partners to ensure residents’ needs are met. Since launching in January 2023, 211 Metro Chicago has received more than 180,000 requests for health and social service resources across Cook County. The top needs fielded by the 24/7 helpline are housing, utility payment assistance and food.

“2-1-1 contact centers not only collect data on the struggles that residents go through every day, but we also play a critical role in directing resources to help,” said Richard LaPratt, Executive Director of 211 Metro Chicago. “Every call, text and web chat we receive tells us what issues individual households are struggling with and what patterns are emerging in the community. As we continue to learn more about our residents’ needs, we are able to find partners that can appropriately support their needs.”

To learn more about the work United Way of Metro Chicago is doing to impact Cook County, please visit LIVEUNITEDchicago.org. For more information on 211 Metro Chicago and their services, please visit 211MetroChicago.org. To read the 2024 update of ALICE in the Crosscurrents, visit UnitedforALICE.org.  

About United Way of Metro Chicago 

United Way of Metro Chicago brings together business, government, philanthropic, individual and community leaders to deliver funding and resources while amplifying the expertise of nonprofit organizations across greater Chicago. We help individuals meet their basic needs and work alongside neighborhood partners to address local priorities and create communities where all people can thrive. United, we are building a stronger, more equitable Chicago region. Visit LIVEUNITEDchicago.org to learn more.

About 211 Metro Chicago

211 Metro Chicago is a 24/7/365 helpline connecting Cook County residents to health and social service resources. 211 Metro Chicago is operated by United Way of Metro Chicago and launched with support from the City of Chicago, Cook County, philanthropic partners and the 211 Metro Chicago Advisory and Executive Boards composed of business, civic, charitable and social service organizations. United Way of Metro Chicago mobilizes private, philanthropic and public sector support to help individuals meet their basic needs and works to support equitable transformation in neighborhoods across the Chicago region. Visit 211MetroChicago.org to connect with these resources.

Media Contact 
Pablo Rosero
[email protected]

SOURCE United Way of Metropolitan Chicago

Originally published at https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/united-way-report-finds-more-than-one-third-of-cook-county-residents-struggle-to-afford-basic-cost-of-living-302179159.html
Images courtesy of https://pixabay.com

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