Engaging Local Planning to Increase Housing Options for Our Next Generation

By Richard Porth January 17, 2017

In Connecticut, like other northeastern states, we worry about the out-migration of our young, talented workers, including our sons and daughters, to other states. You might think that these young people leave to pursue job opportunities elsewhere. A number of studies indicate that this may be true for some, but more often it has to do with the high cost of housing in many of our cities and towns. In fact, as documented by the Partnership for Strong Communities, Connecticut ranks sixth among states in median monthly housing costs. The lack of housing choices that are affordable at a variety of income levels forces some young people to look elsewhere to establish their household and make a new life.

This is especially true for young working families that struggle to pay for the high cost of child care and housing. United Ways in fifteen states are shining a light on this growing problem through the ALICE initiative (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed). The 2016 Connecticut ALICE Report documents that households with income below the ALICE threshold, which is based on a Household Survival Budget that provides a conservative estimate for what it costs for basic necessities, make up at least 20 percent of the households in 145 of Connecticut’s 169 municipalities, and 38 percent of all Connecticut households.

Continue Reading: Partnership For Strong Communities

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Connecticut housing costs remain steep for many, but number of affordable units rising

By Mary O’Leary December 13, 2016

Connecticut’s income inequality remained the second-worst in the country behind New York, “a gap adding to the housing-cost burden experienced by low- and moderate-income families: like other goods and services, those who can pay more drive up costs. The United Way of Connecticut found that almost half of all jobs in the state pay less than $20 an hour, while two-thirds of those low-wage positions pay between $10 and $15 an hour. This is a problem as the amount of hourly pay needed to meet the cost of a two-bedroom apartment in Connecticut went up to $24.72 an hour from $23.02 two years earlier. United Way put out a report this summer updating ALICE (Asset Limited Income Constrained Employed) that found housing “remains a primary barrier to family success.” Working individuals and families earning less than what the agency considers a “survival budget,” comprised 38 percent of all households, up from 35 percent in 2012. A survival budget is between $66,168 and $73,716 for two adults and two children, nearly triple the U.S. poverty rate in the U.S., according to ALICE. “Housing was the single highest monthly cost for individuals and second highest for families, trailing only child care,” the Partnership report found.

Continue reading: New Haven Register

Housing in CT 2016- The Latest Measures of Affordability

December 2016

Release of the United Way of Connecticut’s updated ALICE (Asset Limited Income Constrained Employed) Report in the summer of 2016 indicated housing remains a primary barrier to family success. Working individuals and families earning less than the “survival budget” for ALICE comprised 38% of all Connecticut households, up from 35% in 2012. Housing was the single highest monthly cost for individuals and second highest for families, trailing only child care. Still, the bottom line is positive. Concerted effort led by Gov. Malloy, the General Assembly, housing advocates, developers, and officials in many municipalities have expanded the number of affordable units in Connecticut in 2015 (the latest full-year totals available) to 172,556, a 2% increase from the previous year.

Read the complete: Partnership for Strong Communities Housing in CT 2016 Report

Connecticut housing costs remain steep for many, but number of affordable units rising

By Mary O’Leary December 13, 2016

A Partnership for Strong Communities report on housing in 2016 was a mixed bag. Great strides were made in tackling homelessness and adding to the number of affordable units in the state, but the high cost of housing continues to burden almost half of all renters and 30 percent of homeowners. That means almost 500,000 households pay more than 30 percent of their income for housing. The number of those “severely burdened” — that is, persons who spend more than half of their income for shelter — is 26.4 percent of renters and 12.5 percent of homeowners, figures almost unchanged since 2014. But the continuing good news is the investment in housing by Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s administration over the past six years. The state Department of Housing reported last month that it had produced 1,028 new units in 2016, 929 of them affordable, for a total of 8,572 affordable homes since 2011. As of 2015, the latest full-year totals available, there were 172,556 affordable housing units in the state. On the homeless front, Connecticut is the second state to end veterans’ homelessness and remains on track to end chronic homelessness, according to the Connecticut Homelessness Management Information System. Katy Shafer, the interim policy director of the Partnership, said Connecticut’s coordinated approach to ending homelessness is a national model that leverages all the resources in the state to provide a clear entry and exit point to go from homelessness to housing.

Continue reading: New Haven Register

A picture of working poverty in Greenwich

By Ken Borsuk November 21, 2016

The realities of living in Greenwich while struggling to stay above the poverty line were brought into stark focus on Monday morning at a special presentation by the Greenwich United Way. The meeting put the spotlight on people who are classified as asset limited, income constrained but employed, which is given the acronym ALICE. They have jobs but face major challenges paying for basic necessities like food, shelter, transportation and health care and are above eligibility guidelines for many state subsidies. “They are really struggling and making tough choices every day,” Greenwich United Way President and CEO David Rabin said. “And you might ask, well who is ALICE? Well ALICE are the folks you see every day. They’re our cashiers. They’re our bank tellers. They’re the people who are the backbone of our community really.” The income level for an ALICE family of four is $72,000 a year. Rabin said the number of people classified as ALICE is up to 15 percent of the town, equaling 3,368 residents, a rise from 12 percent in 2014. When added to the 5 percent in town living at the poverty level, that equals 20 percent of the town struggling to get by every month.

Continue reading: Greenwich Time

Greenwich United Way invites community to learn about poverty

By David Ken Borsuk November 20, 2016

The Greenwich community is expected to get a closer look at just how much some are struggling as part of a Monday presentation. In May, the United Way unveiled its latest needs assessment of Greenwich, showing that 5 percent of residents — nearly 3,100 people — are living under the federal poverty level. ALICE refers to “asset limited, income constrained and employed.” It describes residents who have jobs and are bringing in an income but are still at the poverty level. According to David Rabin, the Greenwich United Way’s president and CEO, 15 percent of Greenwich residents are at the ALICE level up from 12 percent in 2014. “Raising awareness is critical,” Rabin said. “This is what we do at the Greenwich United Way. We discover the needs through our needs assessment. Then we raise awareness. Then we raise funds and we dedicate ourselves to finding solutions. This is our mission and the more people are aware of this, the more we can do to help.” The Nov. 21 program, set for 11 a.m. at Greenwich Library, is designed to show people what living at the ALICE level is like in Greenwich.

Continue reading: Greenwich Time

CT’s Crisis Of The Working Poor

November 11, 2016

The problem affects everyone in the state, rich or poor. Such a massive number of households struggling to tread water means burdens on health care, social services and the economy in general. Of course, a moribund economy is the primary cause, and more high-paying jobs are the obvious solution. The United Way should be commended for its efforts to identify such a key social and economic problem. It’s up to legislators and all state residents to find, and support, solutions.

Continue reading: Hartford Courant

New Food Pantry Provides For Staff, Students at Middlesex Community College

By Shawn R. Beas November 10, 2016

Students and staff at Middlesex Community College have started a food pantry program that provides assistance to the campus community. The Magic Food Bus, a renovated party bus outfitted with shelves of staples like pasta, cereal and peanut butter, began operating shortly after the fall semester started. So far it has distributed food more than 70 times. Professor Judith Felton, who runs the human services program at the college, said the state Board of Regents for Higher Education has encouraged colleges to help their communities fight food insecurity. Felton said the call was specifically intended to address the population known as “ALICE” — asset limited, income constrained and employed — who are living above the poverty line but below a cost-of-living income level.”We know we have many students who are part of the ALICE population, and we have students who are at the poverty level,” Felton said. “We have already seen evidence of [the program] touching lives.”

Continue reading: Hartford Courant

CT’s wealth gap a threat to economy

October 17, 2016

There’s the affluent state in which Connecticut remains one of the wealthiest places in the nation, with an average per-capita income 141 percent above the national level. But there’s also a growing population — 38 percent of the state’s 1.36 million households to be exact — struggling financially, unable to afford basic needs such as housing, child care, food, health care and transportation. This resource-strapped population includes households living below the federal poverty level and those living above that level but who still struggle to meet what the United Way calls the average “household survival budget” for a Connecticut family of four, which ranges from $66,168 to $73,716 — more than triple the U.S. family poverty rate of $23,850. United Way has aptly labeled this group ALICE — for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed.

Continue reading: Hartford Business Journal

United Way: New ALICE study includes research from 15 states

By Virgina Mason November 6, 2016

Sixteen United Ways and the United Way of Connecticut collaborated again to issue the 2016 update report on the ALICE Project in Connecticut. The ALICE Project has grown from a pilot program in Morris County, N.J., in 2009 to the entire state of New Jersey in 2012 and now to a national level program, which has become a network of 15 states. Each state is following a framework for understanding and action. Connecticut was part of the first cohort of states to join New Jersey. That group of states also includes Michigan, Indiana, and Florida. Those early states joined New Jersey in 2013.

Continue reading: The Norwich Bulletin