dictions which is was not.”
This makes the outcomes unclear, Keeth said, had the data been “properly assembled.” There were also assumptions being used on things like household income, childcare, family size, transportation and budgets, she said.
Keeth said it was reported in the Maryland Independent that 32 percent of the county’s residents are living within the ALICE threshold and considered working poor. However, she said, that number would more accurately be described as 25 percent with the other 7 percent living in poverty.
The county will not dispute that there are residents considered working poor and some living in poverty, Keeth said, but misused data in the ALICE report overstates the issue.
Brown said it is the department’s intent to provide the county with information that helps the commissioners make policy decisions concerning the report.
Commissioner Ken Robinson (D) said it is important that, no matter what the data says, any member of the community living in poverty or the working poor is “one too many.”
His concern with the report upon its release was also the methodology. The department’s investigation into the report confirmed some of his suspicions, Robinson said.
“Unfortunately, a lot of times, especially with the media, perception is reality,” Robinson said. “And in this particular case, perception could be no further from reality.”
Commissioner Debra Davis (D) said she knew her colleagues were uneasy about the report when it was presented. But the question she said still needs to be answered is “how dire is our situation?”
“You did a good job of tearing down the report that we got, but are we going to move forward and investigate?” Davis said. “What we’ve done is discounted this report, but there’s nothing in place of it. Because it is dire.”
Davis said anyone with “boots on the ground” knows there are serious problems with homelessness and affordable housing in the county. People cannot think about getting jobs or going to school without adequate housing, Davis said.
The county has “turned our heads the other way” on areas like Nanjemoy, Davis said, where residents are struggling with issues highlighted in the ALICE report. It will be hard to get businesses to invest in the county, she said, without taking care of some of those issues first.
“We’re going to need to invest in our people,” Davis said. “The single most important thing this board — or any board — could do is to support businesses. Which we’ve done a really poor job of doing.”
Commissioners’ President Peter Murphy (D) said no one in the county is turning its back on these communities. Davis is right, he said; it is a complicated issue.
But the county is attacking it in their own way and tr ying to figure out how to make things better.
“I do think economic development is incredibly important and we support that,” Murphy said. “It brings in the kind of revenue we need to support some of these programs.”