Who is ALICE in our community?

  • The entire community is affected by the challenges that ALICE families face and once those challenges improve, the entire community will benefit.
  • These families and individuals have jobs, but many do not qualify for social services or support.
  • ALICE holds jobs that are critical to the success of our communities – child care workers, laborers and movers, home health aides, heavy truck drivers, store clerks, repair workers and office assistants – yet, they aren’t sure if they’ll be able to put dinner on the table each night.
  • There is a systemic problem that will not be solved with one magic bullet – policymakers, academics, business and social service agencies need to work together to address long-term systemic change.

What is the household survival budget?

  • The household survival budget quantifies the cost of housing, child care, food, health care and transportation in each county.
  • It is a bare-minimum budget. Every line item has been the most conservative estimate based on the cost of living in each county.
  • The miscellaneous category, 10% of all costs, covers overflow from basic needs; it is not enough to provide for clothes, cell phone, cable, or automotive or appliance repairs. There is no room in the budget for financial indulgences that many families enjoy.
  • This budget does not allow for any savings, leaving an ALICE family more vulnerable to any unexpected expense, such as a costly car repair or health issue.

How should we talk about ALICE?

  • The media and community members refer to the ALICE population in several ways. The goal for United Way is to talk about ALICE in a respectful, non-partisan way at all times.
  • Terms to avoid when talking about ALICE include: working poor, minimum wage worker, needy, hand-to-mouth, and vulnerable. Rather, use the phrases such as working hard and falling short, people we know or our hard working neighbors.
  • We need to go beyond singular or temporary fixes to create lasting change through a focus on the building blocks of a quality life: education, income, and health. In the end, helping ALICE will benefit us all.
  • We all have an interest in improving conditions for ALICE – their everyday struggles reach beyond personal trials to impact the wider community. Get involved in the conversation by contacting your local United Way.

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