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Inflation leads to issues for low-income Pennsylvanians

Three nonprofits shared their experiences working with those who need help during this turbulent economic time.

Increasing prices across a wide swath of consumer goods are causing major issues for people in low-income situations throughout Pennsylvania. 

A report from the Labor Department on Wednesday showed consumer prices in April were 8.3% higher than a year earlier. Consumer Price Index numbers showed small signs of improvement with a gradual lowering of price rates. 

However, for people who are already struggling after two years of pandemic-related setbacks, the situation isn't getting better.

In fact, Stacie Blake, the CEO of YWCA Lancaster, says it’s getting worse.

“We know that anytime that we see challenges on an economic front, – whether it's around employment, whether it's around inflation today, whether it's around any other price changes – those impacts affect the marginalized communities more," Blake said.

The Pennsylvanians Blake works with every day are struggling to make ends meet, especially when it comes to food and gas.

"The impact of inflation is uneven because it impacts the types of things you are required to purchase, which is going to mean your groceries, your gas in particular," said Blake. "…The people who are on the margins perhaps rely more on public transportation or are driving longer distances to work."

Julie Kennedy with the United Way of Lancaster County agrees. She says calls to their 2-1-1 number for housing and rental assistance have drastically increased.

“Housing tends to be where we see the most flux of calls," she noted. "Affordable housing in our area is getting to the level where it’s almost like a parody."

The problems are cyclical and, unfortunately, President of the Community Progress Council in York, Robin Rohrbaugh said, not easily fixed.

“It's the inability to have a long-range vision of what they want to see happen with their lives because if you're struggling to feed your children or keep a roof over your head – what's happening three months down the road is not something you're able to focus on," said Rohrbaugh.

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