Who is ALICE?
ALICE®, a United Way acronym for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed, is a new way of defining and understanding the struggles of hard working households that earn above the Federal Poverty Level, but not enough to afford the cost of living.
For far too many families, the cost of living outpaces what they earn. These households struggle to manage even their most basic needs - housing, food, transportation, child care, health care, and necessary technology. ALICE cannot always pay the bills, has little or nothing in savings, and is forced to make tough choices such as deciding between quality child care or paying the rent. One unexpected car repair or medical bill can push these financially strapped families over the edge.
Households below the ALICE threshold usually do not qualify for governmental aid or social service programs, so their struggles go unseen and unknown.
ALICE households live in every county in Virginia — urban, suburban, and rural — and they include people of all genders, ages, and races/ethnicities, across all household types.
ALICE is your child care worker, the cashier at your supermarket, your gas attendant, the salesperson at your big box store, your waitress, your home health aide, etc.
The Impact of ALICE
ALICE’s existence has long-term implications for all of us.
- When ALICE workers cannot afford an emergency, let alone invest in their neighborhood, communities may experience instability, higher taxes, or a decline in economic growth.
- When ALICE children are not ready for school, they add a burden to the education system.
- When ALICE households cannot afford preventative health care, they are more likely to place a future strain on the healthcare system, increasing insurance premiums for all.
- When ALICE is forced to move far away from work, it results in more congestion and possible traffic accidents for all commuters.
In Virginia, 514,487 households (16%) were on the cusp of the ALICE Threshold in 2018, with earnings just above or below it. This matters not only for families, but also for the Virginia economy: small increases in regular bills like rent, food, or gasoline, a decrease in wages or hours worked, or an unexpected emergency, such as a factory closing or a natural disaster, could destabilize a large number of households.
Ultimately, the future success of our communities is directly tied to the financial stability of these fragile ALICE households.
We believe that as individuals, families and communities we are stronger if we support each other, especially in moments of vulnerability.
The United Way of Rockbridge strives to make our community a place where individuals and families have the tools to move from crisis to survival to sustainability.
We trust that joining the ALICE network will help us to achieve that goal.
(The United Way of Rockbridge adopted ALICE in 2020).
The United Way ALICE Report
There is a basic belief in America that if you work hard, you can support your family. Yet the data presented in the 2020 United Way ALICE Report shows that this is not the case for more than a third of families living in Rockbridge County, Lexington City, and Buena Vista City.
The United Way ALICE Report provides a comprehensive picture of financial need in Virginia, beyond traditional federal poverty guidelines and outlines the challenges of individuals and families who earn more than the official Federal Poverty Level, but less than the basic cost of living.
Download the Virginia ALICE Report.
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