Blog Archives

Housing One of the Top Concerns for ALICE Households

by Richard J. Porth 1/19/2016

Every day people across Connecticut call 2-1-1 to ask for help with housing problems.  In fact, housing-related concerns, including homelessness, represent the #1 service request at 2-1-1.  This is the result in large part of Connecticut’s comparatively high housing costs.  As the Partnership for Strong Communities documents in its “Housing in Connecticut 2015” report, Connecticut is 6th in national ranking of median monthly housing costs.

United Ways in Connecticut recently released a report on financial hardship for hard working people who still struggle to make ends meet – known as ALICE – Asset Limited Income Constrained Employed.  The ALICE Report documents over 276,000 renters in Connecticut with income below the ALICE Household Survival Budget – which quantifies the costs of the five basic essentials of housing, child care, food, health care, and transportation (2012 ACS data).  Yet, the report also indicates that only 175,000 rental units in our state (as of 2013) are affordable to ALICE households and other households below the poverty line.  Clearly, there isn’t enough affordable housing for ALICE and other families in our state.

Our new ALICE update on Housing highlights the cost of housing in Connecticut and the tremendous burden in puts on ALICE families. Thanks to leadership and significant investment by the state government, we are making progress in providing more affordable housing for Connecticut’s ALICE families.

But more needs to be done and more partners, particularly in the private sector, need to be part of the solution.

The Partnership for Strong Communities’ first IForum for 2016 will focus on ALICE and the tough housing choices these hard-working families often face. Gov. Malloy will kick off the IForum series Jan. 27th at The Lyceum in Hartford, Connecticut Housing Commissioner Evonne Klein will underscore affordable housing’s role in fostering individual opportunity and economic growth, and Lincoln Institute of Land Policy George W. Mac McCarthy, a former Ford Foundation vice president and an expert in housing and metropolitan development, will give the keynote address. Please join us and be part of the solution! You can register here.

Cross-posted from the Partnership for Strong Communities blog

The ALICE Report: Income Too Low, Housing Costs Too High

by Richard J. Porth 11/18/2014 

In a newly issued report on financial hardship in Connecticut prepared for Connecticut United Ways (and United Ways in five other states), Rutgers University researchers found that 51% of all Connecticut jobs pay less than $20/hour. Compare this to the calculation by the National Low Income Housing Coalition determining that Connecticut renters have to earn more than $23/hour to afford a typical two-bedroom unit without spending more than 30% of their income on housing.

Housing is the single largest – and least flexible – expense in most family budgets. Analysts agree that housing should cost no more than 30-33% of your income. However, many Connecticut families spend as much as 50% of their income on housing, leaving too few dollars for other basic needs. The result – bad options and lots of stress – hurts families and has a ripple effect throughout the community.

United Way coined an acronym for households that struggle to pay for housing and other basic needs: ALICE – Asset-Limited, Income Constrained, Employed. ALICE represents hard-working families whose earnings are above the federal poverty line but below a basic cost of living threshold established in the report. Over 330,000 Connecticut households live on ALICE wages.

ALICE lives in every Connecticut city and town. ALICE is your childcare worker, the bookkeeper in your office, your auto mechanic and the supermarket checker. ALICE just graduated college or is retired. ALICE is your neighbor who cares for an aging parent or whose adult children moved home.

When housing squeezes ALICE’s budget, difficult choices get made. Families live in unsafe housing. Fast food substitutes for fresh, healthy food. Emergency room treatment replaces cheaper, preventative care. People drive unsafe cars in need of repair or forego prescriptions that can keep them healthy.

United Ways invest in solutions that ease ALICE’s stress, but we invite the entire community to join in discussing the underlying issues preventing ALICE from getting ahead. Download the ALICE Report at and join the conversation.

Cross-posted from the Partnership for Strong Communities blog