BUFFALO, N.Y. — Erie County leaders announced a new pilot program aimed to help the working poor.

What You Need To Know

  • Live Well Erie Workforce Development Pilot Project is seeking employers and employees to participate in a program to help make the jump from relying on social services to earning a living wage

  • The program connects people with existing community benefits that will help train them for promotions

  • The goal is to get 200 households enrolled

County Executive Mark Poloncarz introduced the Live Well Erie Workforce Development Pilot Project that connects employers, employees and community resources to help people who receive social services overcome the “benefits cliff.”

“The cliff works in such a way that if you make one more dollar, you lose 100%,” said Dottie Gallagher, Buffalo Niagara Partnership president and CEO. “There’s no smoothing, which is what there should be to create an incentive for people to actually invest in themselves.”

The program utilizes life coaches and existing community resources to help people navigate taking promotions that will lead to the loss of their benefits but the gaining of a living wage and life skills.

“Our innovation partners will be working with the families surrounding them with comprehensive support around the social determinants of health,” said Marie A. Cannon, Erie County Social Services commissioner.

The program is seeking more employers to participate. Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said anyone interested in participating can reach out to Amy Dvorak, employer relations coordinator, at Amy.Dvorak@erie.gov or 716-858-1060.