LITTLE ROCK, Ark., March 10, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Despite news that our economy is one of the strongest in history, the reality is that 474,000 Arkansas households — 41% of households in the state — are trapped by low wages and rising costs and are unable to afford basic needs.
The ALICE in Arkansas report, released today by Entergy Arkansas and the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation, paints a surprising picture of the scale of financial barriers experienced by nearly half a million households across the state. Around every corner and in every community, people are struggling to make ends meet. These are hardworking individuals — our neighbors and our loved ones, our teachers and childcare providers, health aids and dental hygienists, mechanics and store clerks — that keep Arkansas’ economic engine running, but they aren’t always sure that they can put food on their own tables.
ALICE in Arkansas is the most comprehensive depiction of financial need in Arkansas to date. It upends conventional views of financial stability based on unemployment and job reports. Standing for Asset Limited, Income-Constrained, Employed, ALICE households have incomes above the Federal Poverty Line but struggle to afford basic household necessities, such as housing, child care, food, transportation, and health care.
The Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation and Entergy will co-release the ALICE in Arkansas Report at 11 a.m. March 10 at a press conference at the State Capitol.
“When two out of five households in the state can’t make ends meet, the system is broken,” says Sherece West-Scantlebury, CEO of Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation. “Working harder – when ALICE is already working two or three jobs – won’t fix it and only diverts attention away from the kinds of decisions and policies required to make good on the American Dream promise.”
Based on the Federal Poverty Line (FPL),17 percent of Arkansas households lived in poverty in 2017 and another 24 percent were ALICE households. That’s a combined 41 percent, or 473,955 households, with income below the ALICE Threshold in 2017. Results of the report show that the total number of Arkansas households that cannot afford basic needs increased 20 percent between 2007 and 2017. During that same time, the cost of basic household necessities in Arkansas increased by 32 percent, far more than the increases in overall inflation and wages.
“The ALICE report highlights the hardships for families whose income puts them above the limit for public assistance but struggle with the cost of child care, health care, and the children’s extra expenses,” Governor Asa Hutchinson said. “This report emphasizes the need to continue our effort to create high-wage jobs and the importance of Arkansas Works health coverage for struggling families.”
The report is a project of United For ALICE, a grassroots movement of some 600 United Ways in 21 states, corporations and foundations, all using the same methodology to document financial need. ALICE Reports provide county-by-county and town-level data, and analysis of how many households are struggling, including the obstacles ALICE households face on the road to financial independence.
For ALICE, a basic setback — like a car repair or even a minor illness — has the potential to escalate and leave a family vulnerable and spiraling, according to the data.
“At Entergy, we recognize that many hardworking people can’t make ends meet or afford basic needs — including electricity. We support ALICE in Arkansas and this report that helps shine a light on the large number of households struggling and why,” said Laura Landreaux, president and CEO of Entergy Arkansas, LLC. “We invest millions in our communities to help improve the quality of life for customers. We believe that we can only be as strong as the communities we serve.”
Across the state, the share of households earning below the ALICE Threshold ranged from 26 percent in Benton County to 64 percent in Lee County. Other findings in the report include:
- The average Household Survival Budget (a calculation created for the ALICE report) for an Arkansas family of four is $46,812 — significantly higher than the federally recognized family poverty level of $24,600. (The Single Household Survival Budget is $18,240, with the FDL set at $12,060.)
- Low-wage jobs continue to dominate the landscape in Arkansas, with more than half (51 percent) of all jobs paying less than $15 per hour.
- In the Household Survival Budget, child care represents an Arkansas family’s greatest expense, at a state average of $761 per month for two children.
- ALICE lives in every county in Arkansas — urban, suburban, and rural — and includes women and men who are single, married, young and old. White households make up the largest demographic — 69% — mirroring Arkansas’ majority-White population. But while there are fewer Black and Hispanic households, they are disproportionately likely to be ALICE.
“At Entergy, we know ALICE well. As many as 74% of the calls handled by our call centers annually are from households that face some level of financial hardship,” said Patty Riddlebarger, Entergy vice president of Corporate Social Responsibility. “These are households that struggle month to month and that are often just one calamity away from financial ruin.”
The ALICE in Arkansas report can provide a basis for policies that help make the Arkansas economy work for everyone. “We need smart decisions and policies that put working families first and benefit the entire state,” says West-Scantlebury. “If Arkansas households earned at least the ALICE survival budget, we’d have $8.4 billion more in taxable wages and $6.9 billion more in consumer spending. Not only is that more money back in your pocket, but it’s more revenue — $2.2. billion to be exact — to invest in small businesses, schools, hospitals, and public transportation.”
To view a copy of the report, visit http://www.ALICEinAR.org/.
Additional quotes about ALICE in Arkansas can be found at the bottom of this email.
About the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation
The Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation exists to relentlessly pursue economic, educational, social, ethnic, and racial equity for all Arkansans. We believe that building pathways to opportunity requires broad systemic change. This comprehensive approach may take longer to prove impact, but we believe that it has a greater chance to be impactful and sustainable. We look for levers that offer the greatest promise to increase prosperity from one generation to the next. For more information, go to www.wrfoundation.org.
Entergy Arkansas provides electricity to approximately 700,000 customers in 63 counties. Entergy Arkansas is a subsidiary of Entergy Corporation, an integrated energy company engaged primarily in electric power production and retail distribution operations. Entergy owns and operates power plants with approximately 30,000 megawatts of electric generating capacity, including nearly 9,000 megawatts of nuclear power. Entergy delivers electricity to 2.9 million utility customers in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. Entergy has annual revenues of $11 billion and approximately 13,500 employees. For more information, go to entergy-arkansas.com.
ALICE Advisory Board members available for interviews and quotes about ALICE in Arkansas:
“While there are some positive economic indicators in Arkansas, especially near all-time low unemployment, the ALICE measures reveal that these economic benefits are not reaching all households,” explains Stephanie Hoopes, PhD, author of the report and national director of United For ALICE. “In Arkansas, as across the country, the wages in many jobs that ensure our economy runs smoothly are not keeping up with the basic cost of living.”
— Stephanie Hoopes, PhD. National Director, United For ALICE and author of the ALICE in Arkansas report
United Way of Northern New Jersey
“The federal poverty guidelines are no guide to finding ALICE in Arkansas. ALICE’s story is as common as it is complex, and it is a story that looks different from different eyes: for cash poor white folks, for POC, women, the LGBTQ+ community, immigrants and people with disabilities–each person living the ALICE story has their own constraints that are preventing them from living a life of choice, a life of security and of freedom. They are cooking our food, caring for our elders, and we need an economy that respects these heroes who keep Arkansas’ economic engine running.”
— Stephen Coger, Director
Arkansas Immigrant Defense
“The ALICE study definitively supports what we have seen time and time again in our work: that Arkansans are increasingly burdened by systems of economic injustice that disproportionately oppress people of color and the poor. DecARcerate sees these realities on a daily basis, as we work to address the often unbearable burden of fines, fees, and bail. ALICE families are trapped in debt spirals that make it nearly impossible for them to exit the criminal injustice system. In order to address these harms and create an equitable landscape for all Arkansans, we must provide everyone in our state with equal access to resources and dismantle systems that continue to divide and marginalize.”
— Zachary Crow, DecARcerate Director
“Creating pathways to entrepreneurialism is key to a strong, diverse economy. Yet the ALICE in Arkansas report shines a bright light on the barriers that keep ALICE from accessing those pathways. The only way we can truly innovate Arkansas’ economic ecosystem is if we are strategic and deliberate about removing the real barriers preventing ALICE from actively engaging.”
— Christopher Jones, Ph.D., Executive Director
The Arkansas Regional Innovation Hub
“Far too long, the narrative around the economy has focused on the extremes. The ALICE report disrupts this narrative as it demonstrates that ALICE is someone you know, she is the average working Arkansan. ALICE is working for Arkansas; it is time that Arkansas works for ALICE.”
— Anna Beth Gorman, Executive Director
Women’s Foundation of Arkansas
“The ALICE report brings into sharp focus the families we see every day in our communities: working Arkansans struggling to achieve economic mobility. For nearly 40 years, Southern Bancorp has provided the basic foundations for wealth building, from access to capital to credit repair and financial education. Yet so much more is needed. Without widespread acknowledgment of the realities facing ALICE households, and a commitment to repair the policy environment around them, working Arkansans will continue to be limited in their ability to not only survive but thrive.”
— Janie Ginocchio, Director of Public Policy and Advocacy
“ALICE families–often made up of the heroic professionals like teachers and health aids that are the backbone of our economy–are trapped in an inequitable economic system that is not designed to fairly reward them for their hard work. ALICE serves as a lens to help us uncover the historical and continuing patterns of discrimination and disinvestment that stall upward economic mobility for thousands of Arkansas workers and their children. The ALICE in Arkansas report serves as a framework for activating the kind of courageous, inclusive leadership we need to secure Arkansas’ future.”
— Donald Wood, Executive Director
Just Communities of Arkansas
For more information or to set up interviews, contact Joelle Polisky at 615-526-0358
Credit360 Now Providing Credit Repair Services in Orlando
One of the nation’s finest in personal and business credit solutions has expanded its services in Florida.
“We are very excited to now offer our life-changing services in Orlando,” said Andre Coakley, Founder & CEO of Credit360, a company with an elite team of credit experts that know exactly what techniques will assist individuals and businesses with increasing their credit scores to meet their goals. “We are here to help you achieve your optimal credit profile by making the credit repair process convenient, individualized, and effective.”
Credit360’s specialized credit repair processes, credit expertise, and guaranteed customer service, company representatives say, make it the best in the industry.
Coakley explained that Credit360 has had the opportunity to help thousands of Americans correct their credit reports. In fact, Credit360, Coakley stressed, is a company that puts its money where its mouth is and only charges a fee when items are deleted, removed, or repaired from individuals’ credit reports.
“With our services, you will no longer have to use other expensive credit repair companies that charge monthly and don’t even produce results,” Coakley promised, before adding, “We are so confident in our advanced disputing tactics that we will allow you to pay for your deletions after you actually see our results and we even give you a 100 percent money-back guarantee to back it up just so you can relax.”
Coakley went on to reiterate that Credit360 is an elite team of credit experts that know exactly what techniques will assist customers with increasing their credit scores to meet their goals.
“With our services, most of our clients see deletions within the first 45 days of enrollment and usually see an average increase of 93 points throughout their program cycle,” Coakley said.
About Credit 360
Credit360 was established to assist individuals in restoring their personal credit and in offering a complete line of business credit solutions. Credit360 is a financial services firm specializing in credit restoration and business consulting services.
10664 SW 186th Street
Miami, FL 33157
Source: Credit360 Credit Repair
Credit Saint Credit Repair Review
Today’s credit repair industry is full of paid services, some more expensive than others. Credit Saint clearly falls under the more expensive category, with initial work fees reaching an astounding $195 for premium-tier service. But is the cost worth it? In our review, we’ll break down package options, service guarantees, and more to help you decide.
- Choose from three credit repair plans: Pick the package and price that makes the most sense for your personal situation.
- Most packages include credit monitoring: Two of Credit Saint’s three plans include Experian credit monitoring.
- Offers a 90-day money-back guarantee: If Credit Saint is unable to remove any inaccurate items from your report in the first 90 days, you’ll get all your fees refunded.
- Hard to find pricing online: You need to fill out a form with your contact information before being shown plan pricing.
- High initial work fees: First work fees range from $99 to $195, depending on the plan.
- Limited monthly disputes with low-tier plans: The entry-level plan includes just five disputes per billing cycle.
- Sparse online resources: There isn’t much educational information available on Credit Saint’s website.
- Not available in all states: Credit Saint is unable to serve residents of 11 states as listed on the company’s signup form.
Types of Services
Credit Saint’s services are packaged into three membership levels that vary, depending on how aggressive you need to be in order to remove inaccuracies from your credit report. This is beneficial as it lets you choose a customized plan that matches your needs without overpaying for services you don’t want.
The entry-level credit repair plan from Credit Saint includes five disputes of inaccurate information on your credit report per month. These can be applied to any type of information except hard inquiries, which are only covered by upgraded plans. You’ll also get an initial credit score analysis and an ongoing credit score tracker to keep an eye on your progress. Both are accessible through a client web portal.
Credit Saint’s mid-tier package includes everything included in the Credit Polish plan with a few extras. You’ll get twice as many credit inquiries; 10 are included per month, and you can use these to have inaccurate hard inquiries addressed. The package also includes Experian credit monitoring.
The most aggressive credit repair plan offered by Credit Saint is also the only one that includes unlimited disputes every billing period. With this membership, you can also ask the company to send cease and desist letters on your behalf. This can be a solution to stop unwanted phone calls related to accounts currently in collections. Of course, you’ll also have access to all services included in the Credit Polish and Credit Remodel packages.
Getting phone calls about unpaid debts you can’t afford to repay can be stressful and frustrating. Many credit repair companies advertise cease and desist letters as a way to legally prevent lenders and collections agencies from continuing to make contact. While this might sound like an easy solution, it’s not quite that simple. Once these companies can no longer contact you, they may jump straight to filing a lawsuit. Make sure you discuss both the pros and cons with your credit repair company before allowing them to send cease and desist letters on your behalf.
|Credit Polish||Credit Remodel||Clean Slate|
|Credit score analysis||√||√||√|
|Credit score tracker||√||√||√|
|Hard inquiry disputes||√||√|
|Experian credit monitoring||√||√|
|Cease and desist letters||√|
Some credit repair companies make supplemental services available in the form of optional add-ons. Since Credit Saint packages all of its solutions into a range of all-inclusive plans, the company doesn’t offer any further options to tailor services.
Credit Saint customers can get ahold of the company via phone or email, although hours are more flexible than most competitors, with phone lines open from 9 a.m. to p.m. EST on weekdays. If you need help outside of these hours, you can also log into the Credit Saint customer portal 24 hours a day. Here, you’ll find your credit score tracker and initial score analysis for easy reference.
Former Credit Saint customers give the company average ratings with some mixed reviews. The company has an A rating with the Better Business Bureau, although more than 35 complaints are on record and the average review score sits at just 2.67 stars. With that said, there are no complaints recorded with the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, and Google customer ratings are decidedly better with an average of 3.9 stars.
While online reviews should sometimes be taken with a grain of salt, they can be useful in spotting trends among former customer opinions. Many of Credit Saint’s positive reviews make note of exceptionally friendly customer service agents. On the other hand, the most common complaint comes from customers who say the company didn’t fulfill its 90-day money-back guarantee.
If you have a complaint about the services of a credit repair company, you can file a complaint with the FTC or call 877-FTC-HELP.
Since Credit Saint doesn’t lock customers into contracts, all services are offered on a month-to-month basis, allowing you to cancel anytime without penalty. All you need to do is contact a representative via phone or email to request a cancellation before your next billing date.
One of Credit Saint’s most unique points of attraction is its 90-day money-back service guarantee. According to this promise, the company vows that if it is unable to remove a single negative item from your report within the first 90 days of service, you can ask to have all fees paid up to that point returned.
Customer complaint data shows that many former Credit Saint clients have been unsuccessful in collecting a 90-day refund they felt they deserved. Before signing an agreement with Credit Saint or any credit repair company that advertises a service guarantee, make sure you get a clear explanation in writing of the exact results you can expect by which date. This can help eliminate uncertainty should you need to ask for your money back.
There are two components to Credit Repair’s pricing structure. The first is an upfront fee that covers the initial work period, including an in-depth review of your credit report and an initial credit score analysis. Then, ongoing services are charged on a monthly basis according to the plan you selected.
This fee structure is fairly standard for the credit repair industry, although fees are markedly higher than average. The $195 first work fee for the Clean Slate plan is the highest we came across in our reviews of more than 15 credit repair companies.
|Credit Polish||Credit Remodel||Clean Slate|
|First work fee||$99||$99||$19|
The Competition: Credit Saint vs. The Credit Pros
Our review of the credit repair industry found Credit Saint to be one of the most expensive paid credit repair options currently available. To see whether the cost is worth it, we compared Credit Saint to The Credit Pros, the competitor with the most similar pricing structure.
Like Credit Saint, The Credit Pros offers three tiered service packages, although the latter also makes a non-credit repair option available that includes just credit monitoring for $19 per month. Each company offers a similar array of services across their three core plan levels, but The Credit Pros makes more services available at lower tiers. For example, the cheapest plan includes credit monitoring, which Credit Saint only offers with upgraded packages.
The Credit Pros also includes several services with its plans that Credit Saint doesn’t provide at all. These include identity theft monitoring, financial planning tools, and a prescription medication discount program. Overall, we’d consider The Credit Pros a better value.
|Credit Saint||The Credit Pros|
|Services Offered||Credit repair, monitoring||Credit repair, monitoring, identity theft protection, financial planning|
|Customer Service Touchpoints||Phone, email, client portal||Phone, email, client portal|
|Upfront Fee||$99 to $195||$119 to $149|
|Monthly Fee||$79.99 to $119.99||$69 to $149|
Credit Saint’s graded packages let customers choose their own approach to credit repair at a price point they feel comfortable with. The company includes more services than most competitors, offering in-house credit monitoring and the option to send cease and desist letters to debt collectors. With that said, the service offering falls short of justifying Credit Saint’s sky-high prices. The good news is that a customer-friendly money-back guarantee means you won’t be at a total loss should you agree to these fees and fail to get results.
How We Review Credit Repair Companies
Our credit repair reviews take an extremely critical look at the credit repair industry, one that is notorious for leading customers astray with false promises and overpriced services. We assess the quantity and quality of services offered by each company, including their credit repair solutions and additional services like credit monitoring and debt management. We compare these services to listed prices to determine value, rewarding any companies that protect customers with a money-back service guarantee. Finally, we take a deep dive into customer review data and analyses from third parties like the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau and the Better Business Bureau.
Learn more: Read our full Credit Repair Review Methodology here.
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