Thompson Ecumenical Empowerment Group adds evening hours

By Kerensa Konesni September 29,2018

Just ahead of the holiday season, the Thompson Ecumenical Empowerment Group (TEEG) has announced it will change and expand hours at its food pantry to better assist working families in the towns of Thompson, Woodstock and Pomfret.

“It’s something we had been toying with for a while, but weren’t completely sure how exactly to do it,” TEEG Community Outreach Coordinator Jason Bleau said.

On Oct. 8, TEEG will begin offering a new evening food pantry distribution day in a two-hour block from 4-6 p.m. Existing food pantry hours — from 9-11 a.m. Tuesday, and Wednesday and Friday afternoons from 1:30-3:30 p.m — will remain in place.

The reason for the change? It all comes back to a single question, Bleau said: how can we better help our clients?

Many of the 250-300 households who rely on TEEG monthly are, in social services lingo, “ALICE” families — Asset Limited Income Constrained Employed.

“That’s the middle class, the people that have a job and provide for themselves, but they can’t quite provide as much as they need to,” Bleau said.
Single parents. Large families. Two-income households that can’t quite keep up with their monthly expenses, despite best efforts made.

Not all of those clients can make it to the food pantry during the morning and afternoon hours that the agency offers, especially those working the traditional 9 to 5.

Continue reading: Norwich Bulletin


Report: More Greenwich families struggling financially

By Hannah Dellinger September 22, 2018

Aziz Elsoudani is an economics professor and financial analyst. He’s written multiple books and dozens of articles in three different languages. Despite years of toiling and saving to support his family, he is looking for work at 79.

Elsoudani left Egypt for political reasons and came to the U.S. in 2002 to teach, leaving behind his land and assets. He worked at high schools, colleges and universities in the U.S. for over a decade, but recently he had to stop teaching after suffering a spinal injury that precludes him from standing for long periods at a time. The professor said the savings he brought to America was quickly depleted by high rental prices and medical bills.

“I lost everything,” he said. “You can’t imagine.”

Elsoudani and wife, Fawzia, got a break 15 years ago when they were accepted into Agnes Morley Heights, a senior housing facility in Greenwich subsidized by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. There, they pay 30 percent of their income as rent, a much more affordable prospect than renting in the private sector.

“This building, it is low rent,” Elsoudani said. “All (facilities), I appreciate. I appreciate the town and the administration of the public housing for everything (they) provide.”

The couple is able to cover their monthly expenses because they live in public housing, Elsoudani said.

But other Greenwich residents paying a higher percentage of their income for housing have bigger financial challenges to overcome. Each month, they face difficult decisions, as they live paycheck to paycheck.

“If there’s one dramatic circumstance, like a death in the family, or somebody losing a job, or someone getting sick, it’s a disaster,” said Alan Barry, commissioner of the town’s Department of Human Services. “And they’re not putting away for retirement, for college.”

Greenwich’s high cost of living and a shortage of jobs that pay a living wage in the region are causing an increase in the number of people struggling to make ends meet, according to town officials and nonprofit administrators.

About 21 percent of Greenwich’s population is employed but can’t afford basic necessities, according to the United Way’s recently released Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed report, and more than 6 percent are living below the federal poverty line.

Continue reading: Greenwich Time


Editorial: Connecticut’s persistent wealth gap

September 21,2018

A closer look at the Census data shows that Fairfield County had triple the number of people earning $200,000 or more a year compared to the country as a whole.

The median income in the country was $61,372 — meaning half the households earned more and half less — a 1.8 percent increase from 2016 to 2017. Overall, in Connecticut the median income of $74,200 grew by 1 percent from 2016 to 2017, which is the right direction but not far enough. In New Jersey the median income rose 5.2 percent and in New York by 3.2 percent. We could do better.

Disparity among income in the state’s cities persists.

Stamford at $87,300 had the highest median income among large cities, with Norwalk second at $70,000. For Danbury, which saw a decrease, the median income was $65,600, but New Haven and Bridgeport households had a median level of about $45,000.

The number of Americans living below the poverty line inched downward from 12.7 percent in 2016 to 12.3 percent in 2017, the third consecutive year of decline. But it remains difficult for people with incomes hovering just above that line because the cost of basics, such as groceries and health care, has increased faster than wages, according to the United Way, which calls these households ALICE for Asset Limited, Income Constrained and Employed. Even in Stamford — with the highest median income — 40 percent of the households are income constrained.

Continue reading: Stamford Advocate


United Way launches new fundraising campaign

By Karla Santos September 14,2018

This year’s ALICE report states that in New Britain, 28,118 households are living below the basic cost of living. That number accounts for 62 percent of New Britain households and it also includes those who are living below the Federal Poverty Level.

According to the ALICE Report, in our region, a family of four with two parents, an infant and a preschooler needs to earn up to $79,000 a year just to be able to afford basics such as housing, transportation, healthcare, food, child care, technology and utilities.

For New Britain, the numbers have stayed the same since the last report came out, two years ago.

“For families here in our region, housing and childcare makeup more than 50 percent of their survival budget,” Cook said.

The money raised through the ALICE Fund is going to support programs and services that have a direct impact on qualifying families’ household budget.

Continue reading: New Britain Herald


State United Way Releases 2018 ALICE Update

By John Voket September 15, 2018

Having learned that four out of ten families in Connecticut continue to struggle to pay for basic needs, United Ways across the state are working to implement strategies to help nudge these families toward more stable financial security.

According to Annie Scully, a Research Analyst and Community Outreach Coordinator for United Way of Connecticut, the agency’s 2018 ALICE update affirms that 40 percent of state households cannot afford to pay for basic necessities, including housing, food, child care, health care, technology, and transportation. United Way defines ALICE households as Asset Limited Income Constrained Employed.

“Since we released the report, we believe a lot more people are becoming aware and paying attention to ALICE and the struggles families are facing,” she said. “This report really puts a face on the hardship and investigates why 40 percent of state households are struggling.”

While that is a sobering statistic, Ms Scully added that among those four in ten families, 30 percent are still living above the federal poverty line.

“Many believe that benchmark is inadequate for measuring the true financial scope of hardship,” she said.

United Ways in Connecticut and 17 other states are promoting the ALICE initiative to place a spotlight on a large population of residents who are working but have difficulty affording a basic Household Survival Budget.

The latest ALICE Report update uses data from a variety of sources, including the US Census and the American Community Survey, to quantify the number of households in Connecticut’s workforce that are struggling financially.

Continue reading:The Newtown Bee


Middlesex United Way: 1 in 3 Connecticut residents can’t afford basic necessities

By Kevin Wilhelm September 14,2018\

More families in Connecticut are facing financial hardship, according to the 2018 ALICE Report released this month by Connecticut United Ways. The update to the original ALICE Report, which released in 2014, and again in 2016, reveals that more than 1 in 3 Connecticut residents are struggling to afford their basic needs.

ALICE, which stands for Asset Limited Income Constrained Employed, is defined as individuals or families who have earnings above the federal poverty level, but below a basic cost-of-living threshold. Despite working hard at often more than one job, these households struggle to make ends meet.

The updated 2018 Connecticut United Way’s ALICE Report documents the challenges facing ALICE families throughout our state, and identifies trends that affect ALICE’s ability to achieve financial security. In Middlesex County, there are 16,834 households who fall under the ALICE criteria, approximately 25 percent of all Middlesex County households.

One of these trends discovered is that even though Connecticut may be known as a state with one of the highest “per capita” incomes, the fastest growing jobs right now are the ones with the lowest pay. Also, there has been a rise in what is being called the “gig economy” — short-term site-specific jobs that are have limited job security, few or no benefits, fluctuating hours and unreliable wages. These trends are significantly impacting our state’s residents, and leading to more and more ALICE households.

Continue reading: Middletown Press


Middlesex United Way: 1 in 3 Connecticut residents can’t afford basic necessities

By Kevin Wilhelm September 14,2018

The updated 2018 Connecticut United Way’s ALICE Report documents the challenges facing ALICE families throughout our state, and identifies trends that affect ALICE’s ability to achieve financial security. In Middlesex County, there are 16,834 households who fall under the ALICE criteria, approximately 25 percent of all Middlesex County households.

One of these trends discovered is that even though Connecticut may be known as a state with one of the highest “per capita” incomes, the fastest growing jobs right now are the ones with the lowest pay. Also, there has been a rise in what is being called the “gig economy” — short-term site-specific jobs that are have limited job security, few or no benefits, fluctuating hours and unreliable wages. These trends are significantly impacting our state’s residents, and leading to more and more ALICE households.

ALICE families often make too much money to be eligible for many social assistance programs, yet make too little to get by comfortably, and are forced to make sacrifices that can have long-term consequences.

Many ALICE families will opt to eat meals based on price rather than nutrition. Many will avoid going to the doctor or dentist for preventative visits, as they fear being unable to cover their medical bills. Some families will have a parent stay home, rather than work, because the cost of child care makes working unrealistic.

Continue reading: New Haven Register


ALICE households an important focus

By Greg Bordonaro September 10, 2018

The United Ways of Connecticut recently released their third annual ALICE report, which revealed 40 percent of households in our state have incomes that fall below what is needed to pay for basic necessities.

The number is startling in many respects but also not totally surprising. Most people understand that Connecticut is an expensive state. In fact, the United Ways report concluded that a household of four, including one infant and a toddler, must earn nearly $78,000 a year to afford basic necessities, including housing, food, child and health care, technology and transportation.

That’s a large number in a state where the median household income is $73,433.

The United Ways should be commended for putting a spotlight on the growing financial challenges of Connecticut families. But a more pressing question in my mind is what does the report hope to achieve? There are many studies that highlight the growing income inequality in this country but few propose realistic solutions to the problem. And new government programs and spending can’t be the only answers, particularly amid Connecticut’s fiscal challenges.

Continue reading: Hartford Business Journal


Paula Gilberto | President & CEO, United Way of Central and Northeastern Connecticut

By Sean Teehan September 10, 2018

What are the most pressing issues in Greater Hartford that could be helped by United Way?

Too many households are struggling to make ends meet — unable to afford the basics such as food, housing, child care, health care and transportation. United Way coined the acronym ALICE to describe these households: asset limited, income constrained, employed. ALICE household income ($78,000 for a household of four) is above the Federal Poverty Level, but below financial security. Our United Way and its partners are working to ensure ALICE has affordable, quality child care, access to health care and opportunities to secure good-paying jobs.

Continue reading:Hartford Business Journal


Danbury households stugglings are made of those “employed, but constrained”

By Zach Murdock September 8, 2018

A new United Way report delivers a sobering statistic: Half of Danbury households struggle to pay for necessities like housing, child care and groceries.

But those 15,400 households across the city are not the initial stereotype that first comes to many people’s minds, local officials warn.

These are families who are “employed but constrained,” not homeless or living in squalor. They have jobs, many earning $20 to $40 per hour, but who still struggle to afford the nearly $78,000 in basic needs the report estimates a family of four faces every year.

“We’re talking about your home health aid or your grocery store clerk, not somebody out there panhandling on the street,” said Kim Morgan, CEO of the United Way of Western Connecticut. “If 50 percent of the people of Danbury are quietly struggling to put food on the table or pay their bills, they’re not complaining about it or telling people out on the street.

“But they’re the ones who can’t write the check for their child’s sports team,” she continued. “These are families who have to pause at every decision and calculate how they are going to make this happen.”

The findings punctuate the United Way’s annual financial hardship report, which found that almost 40 percent of households across the state — almost 540,000 — live below the federal poverty line or hover just above it and qualify as United Way asset-limited, income-constrained and employed, or ALICE, households.

Continue reading: The Hour