New report: 23% of Oregonians are "working poor" - KPTV - FOX 12

New report: 23% of Oregonians are "working poor"

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Shar Paw and her family, who live in east Portland. Courtesy: FOX 12 Shar Paw and her family, who live in east Portland. Courtesy: FOX 12
PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -

A new report released by the United Way classifies more than 20% of Oregonians as the “working poor.”

The report identifies people which are asset limited, income constrained, and employed (ALICE), in households making more than the federal poverty level, but less than the cost of living for the state. 

The report found 23% of the state’s population at or below the ALICE threshold, and an additional 15% living in poverty. 

Andrew Haley, who works with the Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization (IRCO), said a majority of the refugee families he works with are below the ALICE threshold, and struggling to survive.

“Most of our families are definitely in that category. We have families that are paying 80% of their wages to rent,” said Haley.

Shar Paw and her family, who live in east Portland, are among them.  Paw said nearly every dollar her husband, Mya Tin, brings home from his job at a seafood processing plant, goes to pay rent and utilities.

“Some months we have about 70 or 80 dollars left, or some months it just goes all out for the rent,” said Paw through a translator.

Paw and her family fled persecution in Myanmar in 2014.  They receive state assistance in the form of food stamps, but each month is a struggle, she said.

“We don’t really have any regrets, but we are very concerned sometimes when he doesn’t make much, we worry that we might not be able to make it through the month,” said Paw.

Haley believes the state should put more programs to help refugees, especially given the rate at which that population is growing.

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