40% of Allen County considered ‘working poor’

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – The number of people considered the ‘working poor’ has gone up 6-percent in just two years in Allen County. The working poor are defined as people who are employed and above the poverty line, but they’re still not making enough to afford all basic household needs.

For years Kelly Richards and his wife never thought they’d have children due to a disorder his wife had, but life had different plans for the Richards family. Richards is now taking care of his daughter, McKenna. When McKenna was four her mom lost her battle.

“Since the loss of my wife things have been a struggle,” Richards said.

Two months later, Richards lost his job of 20 years. He took time off, able to afford it with life insurance money, then relocated to Indianapolis with his daughter for a new job. He was then laid off again.

The family of two moved back to Fort Wayne, and into a home Richards owned before the birth of his daughter. It’s a home that needs a lot of work, but work Richards can’t afford.

“Moved into the house, and of course I’m low on funds,” Richards said. “When we turned on the water the water line broke. So, we found ourselves with no running water.”

While still living off some money from his wife, Richards has also started driving for Uber to make more money. But after living most his life comfortably he’s found himself in a group called the ‘working poor.’

“Household survival budget means– you have your housing costs, you have your healthcare costs, transportation, childcare,” United Way of Allen County VP of Community Impact Tiffany Bailey said. “It’s meeting those basic needs in a household. So, there are individuals that are above that poverty level, but they may not qualify for different supportive services or programs available to them to help cover those costs.”

The United Way released a study showing 36-percent of Indiana residents are working poor. Allen County is above that at 39-percent. Bailey said she doesn’t know why the number is so high, but often times it’s changing circumstances for families – like the Richards.

“The fear of losing my daughter because I can’t provide for her doesn’t make me feel so good,” Richards said.

Richards is currently enrolled in the Lutheran Social Services Works Program. He’s getting personal and professional help to get the best job possible. If you or someone you know are part of the working poor and need help, visit Call 2-1-1.

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