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CONTACT:    Noreen J. Dunnells, CEO/President, United Way of Lane County

541.741.6000 Ext. 165


Note: Downloadable state-by-state, and county-by-county data on the scope of household financial instability in 2016 across the region is available with the link below.

Springfield, OR – May 17, 2018 – In Lane County 26,588 households live below the federal poverty level. Another 38,405 are ALICE families. ALICE stands for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed. These households earn above the Federal Poverty Level, but less than what it takes to survive in the modern economy. Families living below nationally assigned poverty thresholds combined with ALICE households make up 44 percent of Lane County’s 147,712 households.

NEARLY 26% of Lane County households can’t afford a basic monthly budget that includes housing, food, child care, health care, transportation and a cell phone. New data released by the United Ways of the Pacific Northwest and the United Way ALICE Project shows that 44 percent of Lane County 147,712 households live one unexpected expense away from financial distress.

United Way of Lane County President and CEO, Noreen J. Dunnells said, “Given the community dialogue around lack of affordable, accessible, stable housing, I am not surprised that our ALICE families have increased in number since the last report issued in 2014. Overall the cost of housing in Oregon has risen by 31% from 2010 to 2016. This is a complex and compelling issue that we need to address with multiple strategies and innovative solutions. Community partners are working to solve the housing crisis in Lane County including the Poverty & Homelessness initiative, Better Housing together, and numerous non-profit agencies.”

The United Way ALICE Project compares 2016 household costs versus incomes at the county-level in each state.  National averages do not accurately represent the extent of financial struggle in Lane County communities. 

The term ALICE was coined to shed light on those essential workers often overlooked by other economic indicators and policy discussions. ALICE is our child care workers, home health aides and store clerks – those men and women who work at low-paying jobs, have little or no savings and are one emergency from poverty. 

The ALICE Project is a grassroots movement that seeks to redefine financial hardship in the U.S. by providing comprehensive, unbiased data to help inform policy solutions at all branches of government and in business, academia and nonprofit organizations. Launched by the United Way of Northern New Jersey at the start of the Great Recession, the research is being embraced by United Ways in 18 states, with more expected to join next year. United Ways and partners are using the data to develop policies, allocate resources and address community needs.

Additional data highlights revealed by the research include:

More than 44 percent of households in Lane County cannot afford a basic survival budget – the percentage of struggling families ranges from 47 percent in Eugene and 62 percent in Oakridge.


From 2010 to 2016 the cost of basic household expenses for a family of four (two adults with one infant and one preschooler) has risen an average of 34 percent across Lane County compared to nationwide inflation rate over that period of 9%.

About the United Way ALICE Project

The United Way ALICE Project is a collaboration of United Ways in Connecticut, Florida, Hawai‘i, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, Washington, and Wisconsin. The Project has developed standardized measurements that provide a comprehensive look at financial hardship across the U.S. With this data, Project members work to stimulate a fresh, nonpartisan dialogue across the country about the importance and fragility of working families living paycheck to paycheck. About United Way of Lane County

About United Way of Lane County
United Way of Lane County works to support the education, financial stability, and health of every person in our community. United Way brings together the passionate individuals and organizations that have the knowledge and resources to get things done; engaging top leadership from every sector in developing strategies that will change systems and invest in programs and services that address our community’s current social crises. To learn more visit

Lane County Recognized as a Pacesetter for Early Literacy

Lane County has been honored as a Pacesetter by the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading for exemplary work in eliminating barriers faced by children from low-income families on the path to becoming proficient readers.

“Pacesetter Honors are among the highest awards presented by the Grade-Level Reading Campaign,” said Ralph Smith, the managing director of the Campaign for Grade-Level Reading. “We are very proud of Lane County and the numerous organizations and individuals behind the community for joining forces and working tirelessly to uplift children and families. They remind us that we are seeing great progress and real results all across the country."

The Grade-Level Reading Campaign recognizes Lane County, Oregon, as a 2016 Pacesetter for reporting population-level, measurable progress in school readiness and summer learning for children from low-income families. United Way of Lane County serves as the backbone support organization for the Lane Early Learning Alliance, which is focused on working together with cross-sector partners to create systems of services and supports that are aligned, coordinated, and family-centered, to ensure children are prepared to succeed in school and life.

Through Lane County’s collaborative efforts with partners:

  • Developmental screening rates for children have increased from 28.3% in 2013 to 67% in 2015, indicating a significant improvement in school readiness for low-income children.
  • Lane County also has implemented and scaled a successful Kids in Transition to School (KITS) program to improve summer learning and strengthen parent success. The KITS program has gone from serving 40 children at two sites in 2011 to serving 368 children at 24 school sites in 2016. Program outcomes include a 28% drop in the number children at risk for reading failure, as well as indicators of parental confidence at supporting their children’s learning and positive behaviors.

The Grade-Level Reading Campaign would especially like to recognize Lane County for its exemplary work to achieve success, scale, and sustainability of GLR efforts and outcomes. Find out more about the Grade-Level Reading Pacesetter Awards.

Local effort to provide dental care for every child spreads

"I grew up in a family that didn’t have access to dental care. It was a luxury that my parents could not afford. This resulted in cavities that could have been prevented.

Today, many families in Oregon are in a similar predicament. In fact, many children have rampant decay, which is defined as seven or more teeth rotting down to the gums. The statistics are sobering: 17,000 children between the ages of 6 and 9 in our state have rampant decay, and one in five children has untreated decay. Poor oral hygiene leads to larger health issues, children missing school and added financial stress on families."

Read More on the Register-Guard

Tax-Aide Interview on KKNU

United Way and AARP sat down with Tracy Berry from KKNU to discuss Tax-Aide services for 2017. Click here to listen. 

United Way of Lane County Aims to Improve Oral Health

EUGENE, Ore. -- A team of volunteers spent their MLK day trying to improve the smiles of thousands of kids by putting together dental kits. 

It’s all part of an effort by the United Way and local bike trailer company Burley.

Oregon's childhood dental disease rates are some of the highest in the country, so the team set out to provide resources for kids and their families.

Listen to complete coverage on KEZI

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