United Way’s ALICE Report shows that 41% of Ulster County households are financially insecure, unable to contend with an unplanned expense or circumstance. In response to this increasing trend, United Way of Ulster County established the Emergency and Homelessness Prevention Fund. Initiated by a single $2,000 donation from a concerned United Way volunteer (who had overheard phone conversations staff were having with people calling for help), this fund has grown to $250,000 with generous support from the Bruderhof community, the NoVo Foundation, Assemblyman Kevin Cahill’s office, and individual donors. $250,000 sounds like an awful lot of money. But when you consider that the average grant to a household is $722, that means we were able to assist 346 households; and with 41% of Ulster County’s 90,000* households being financially insecure, there are thousands of households that could use the help.
Who were these 346 families? Well, 75% of them were ALICE families – low-wage hourly workers in food service, retail, healthcare and seasonal work in construction or landscaping. Some were single mothers fleeing domestic violence. Others had experienced layoffs and were re-employed, but not paid yet. They were grandmothers suddenly caring for grandchildren due to the incarceration and/or substance abuse addiction of the children’s parents. There were those who were recently released from prison, had found employment, but did not have the financial resources to secure an apartment. The second largest group were disabled individuals and seniors receiving Supplemental Security Insurance (SSI), or Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), which on average provided approximately $800 a month. You might wonder how these households survive on $800 a month; they live extremely frugal lives. But if their steps need repairing, or their shoes are worn out, they simply don’t have the financial resources to address these needs.
…the average grant to a household is $722, that means we were able to assist 346 households; and with 41% of Ulster County’s 90,000* households being financially insecure, there are thousands of households that could use the help.``
And so, with our partners Family of Woodstock and RUPCO, we work together to provide security deposits to obtain an affordable apartment, rental assistance to avoid eviction, and help with electric bills to avoid shut-off. We have purchased used furniture, textbooks, winter boots, and mattresses. We provided assistance with car repairs, health insurance co-pays or deductibles, transportation to doctor’s appointments, truck rental for moving, and any other expenses that prevent homelessness, unemployment, or hospitalization, and ensure the health and safety of an Ulster County family in need.
*Source: U.S. Census Bureau 2013-2017