A group whose study found that a family of three needs more than $63,000 a year to not be considered "working poor" in Howard County is asking the County Council to address questions about how to best serve those in need, especially in regard to affordable housing.
The Association of Community Services of Howard County (ACS), a network of Howard County human services providers and advocates, was set to meet Tuesday with County Council members in the wake of the findings of a study commissioned by the ACS and conducted by the Policy Analysis Center.
The study, entitled "Making Ends Meet" in Howard County, was conducted over more than a year by researchers at The Johns Hopkins Institute for Policy Studies, finding that a family with two adults and one infant needs $63,537 to no longer be considered among the working poor in Howard County—more than $45,000 above the federal poverty level.
Further, a single parent family with two children must earn $72,000 a year in Howard County to escape the label of “the working poor,” according to the study.
"ACS looks forward to working collaboratively with government and the business, education, faith and funding communities to identify approaches to resolving several workforce issues that emerge in this study,” ACS Executive Director Duane St.Clair said in a statement at the time the report was released in the fall.
“Of particular priority are: affordable quality childcare; education and training opportunities; and access to employment services that help workers identify pathways to increased earnings."
The ACS has asked the council for responses to questions, including how low wage earners can be helped to be successful without losing needed government benefits – a cycle it says penalizes the poor once they begin to make more income.
The group also wants to know what issues are of importance to county residents in need of services and what non-profit service providers need to know to be more effective.
Affordable housing and transportation are also among the group’s top priorities, it says, especially in the redevelopment of downtown Columbia.
“We believe creating this dialogue between government officials is a critical part of our mission in the community,” said spokeswoman Karen Lubieniecki.
The meeting is set for Feb. 7 from 8-10 a.m. at the Owen Brown Interfaith Center in Columbia.