Blog Archives

Middlesex United Way: Shoreline Basic Needs Task Force and ALICE

By Kevin Wilhelm May 26, 2017

The Shoreline Basic Needs Task Force, founded in 2012, is a group made up of like-minded volunteers representing all backgrounds, such as local nonprofits, businesses, faith-based organizations, concerned citizens and community leaders.

This past year, the Shoreline Basic Needs Task Force chose the ALICE Report as its 2016 Awareness Campaign. As many of you know, ALICE, a United Way acronym for Asset Limited Income Constrained Employed, represents individuals and households who are working but have difficulty affording the necessities of housing, food, child care, health care and transportation.

In 2014, Connecticut United Ways and Rutgers University developed the first ALICE report after completing studies on this hidden population. ALICE households in Connecticut make up about 27 percent of all households in the state, in addition to the 11 percent of Connecticut households that are in poverty.

In Middlesex County, 22 percent of households are ALICE, and 8 percent are in poverty.

While these households do not fall under the official federal poverty level, they make too little to afford necessities, including decent housing. Many times, the ALICE population is referred to as the “working poor.” In most family budgets, housing is the largest and least flexible expense.

In Middlesex County, 22 percent of homeowners and 40 percent of renters are under extreme housing burdens, meaning they pay more than 35 percent of their income on housing. A single adult will pay an average of $749 a month for housing, and a family of four will pay an average of $1,170 a month. Affordable housing is defined as housing, either ownership or rental, for which a household will pay under 30 percent of its gross annual income.

Continue reading: Middletown Press


Affordable housing: The key to healthy communities

By Lisa Tepper Bates and David Rich April 27, 2017

Expanding Connecticut’s stock of affordable housing is a smart solution to an important problem our state faces. Connecticut is the sixth most expensive state for housing. Nearly 50% of all Connecticut renters (250,000 people) pay more than is affordable (30% of their income) on housing. A growing body of research attests to the fact that safe and stable housing is the fundamental basis for a healthy and productive life. Children do not learn well if they lack a stable home. Adults are less able to be productive, and more likely to be ill, if they lack adequate housing. Our communities pay over and over through our public systems for these negative side effects of a lack of affordable housing. In these tight fiscal times, we cannot afford wasteful public spending. We can help solve this problem by increasing the stock of affordable housing through inclusionary zoning.

The pivotal importance of housing as the launchpad for a productive, healthy life is not just about our most vulnerable population facing homelessness. According to the United Way of Connecticut’s ALICE study, 38% of Connecticut households either live in absolute poverty (11%) or under the threshold of “Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed” (27%). These ALICE households have earnings above the federal poverty level but below a basic cost-of-living threshold. And among the greatest costs they face every month? Housing.

Continue reading: Stratford Star


Middlesex United Way: New EARN savings program available

By Kevin Wilhelm March 31, 2017

They say habits, either good or bad, can be formed in as little time as 30 days. At Middlesex United Way, we are excited to unveil our new partnership that helps lower-income families develop new savings habits that can last a lifetime. Middlesex United Way, along with other Connecticut United Ways across the state, are partnering with EARN, a San Francisco- based nonprofit organization. The purpose of the new partnership is to continue in our fight to helping the ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) population by bringing an easy to use, matched savings program.

In 2014, Connecticut United Ways and Rutgers University found that despite their efforts, 25 percent of Connecticut households who earn above the federal poverty line still live under a basic cost-of-living threshold defined in the report. We define these households as ALICE, – Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed. ALICE households, combined with those in poverty, comprise 38 percent of Connecticut households, revealing that more than 1 in 3 Connecticut households can’t afford the basics of housing, food, healthcare, childcare, and transportation.

To be defined as ALICE, you must be asset limited. Thirty-nine percent of Connecticut households lack the liquid assets necessary to survive a financial emergency. This means that an unexpected hospital trip or car repairs can have the potential to devastate an ALICE household. Sadly, it is often these unexpected expenses that lead to further financial hardships for these families.

Continue reading: The Middletown Press


Hartford Courant State’s Cost of Living Leaves Many Short

by Susan Dunn 11/23/2014 

The American dream is that if you work hard, you can expect to get ahead financially. For most of us, that means you can save money, buy a reliable car, purchase a home if you want, afford quality child care, send your children to college, handle unexpected expenses, pay for your family’s health care and take family vacations.

But as John Lennon reportedly said, “Life is what happens while you are busy making other plans.” That is exactly what happened to my family more than two decades ago. My husband’s business closed, he wanted to go back to school to prepare for a new career, we had three school-age children and a mortgage. I suddenly found that my full-time income qualified my children for free or reduced lunch at the public school they attended. By any measurement, we were clearly struggling to make ends meet.

Although this was more than 20 years ago and we are now better off financially, the same is not true for many families in Connecticut, as documented in Connecticut United Ways’ recently released in-depth study of the financial hardship faced by many working families throughout our state. The study reports that 35 percent of Connecticut households can barely afford life’s necessities. We have known that about 10 percent of Connecticut households live in poverty, but we have overlooked the 25 percent of households with income above the federal poverty level but below the state’s basic cost-of-living threshold defined in the United Way report.

Continue reading: Courant.com