More residents above poverty line can’t cover basic costs in CT, report says

By Mackenzie Rigg September 2, 2018

Each night, Elizabeth Yates helps her 2-year-old son Tommy brush his tiny teeth, reads him his favorite books, and then tucks the strawberry blonde toddler into bed.

Many nights, Yates has to later scoop her sleeping son out of bed, put him in his carseat, and drive him to his babysitter’s home. She does this because she has to go to work.

Yates, who lives in Stamford, works the overnight shift, 11 p.m. to 11 a.m., as a master control operator at a digital media company. She spends her work hours watching multiple screens to make sure different television networks are functioning properly.

And she always works overtime, bringing her typical work week to 60 hours.

“I try to load on as much overtime just to make ends meet,” said the 45-year-old single mom, who also supplements her groceries with free fruit and vegetables from a local food pantry and a monthly food truck. “Right now we’re just eeking by on a prayer … if we lost my overtime, I’d sink.”

Yates is hardly alone. In Connecticut, 538,529 households — 40 percent — could not afford basic needs such as housing, child care, food, transportation, health care, and technology in 2016, according to a new report released by The United Way of Connecticut.

Continue reading: Connecticut Mirror

Residents Struggle With Basic Household Survival

September 2, 2018

The ALICE Report recommends both short-term and long-term strategies to help ALICE families and strengthen our communities. Connecticut’s United Ways are responding to provide a hand up for ALICE households through a number of these short-term and long-term strategies.

Connecticut’s United Ways are helping working families to increase their financial security by building a life-long habit of saving. United Ways are promoting SaverLife Connecticut, which combines a goal-based savings incentive program digital financial coaching and online resources.

United Ways are working to help ALICE families build their assets and savings by supporting tax preparation at VITA sites where eligible families can secure tax credits (EITC, CTC) and begin saving, and through financial education and budget coaching.

United Ways advocate for long-term policy solutions that can lead to more financial security for ALICE.United Ways engage with businesses, government agencies, other nonprofits, the faith-based community, civic leaders and anyone who wants to work toward individual and community wide solutions that lead to more financial security for ALICE households.

Continue reading: Only in Bridgeport

New Report: 4 out of 10 Families in Connecticut Struggle to Pay for Basic Needs

September 2, 2018

According to the 2018 ALICE Report for Connecticut, 40% of households in our state have income which falls below what is needed to pay for basic necessities of housing, food, child care, health care, technology, and transportation.

ALICE, stands for – Asset Limited Income Constrained Employed. United Ways in Connecticut and seventeen 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 new ALICE Report uses data from a variety of sources, including the U.S. Census and the American Community Survey to quantify the number of households in Connecticut’s workforce that are struggling financially.

The new ALICE Report on financial hardship takes a deeper look at the growing financial challenges that require more and more working and middle class families to make tough choices every day as they manage their household budget.

Continue reading: CT Philanthropy Digest

United Way report details financial hardships faced by Connecticut workers

By Claire Bessette September 2, 2018

In Connecticut, 40 percent of households struggled to meet basic costs of living in 2016, and most did not have enough savings to handle a fiscal crisis such as a layoff, car repair or illness, a study released Sunday by Connecticut United Ways said.

Richard Porth, CEO of United Way Connecticut, said officials want to introduce ALICE to the state’s residents, employers and service providers to find ways to address the problems faced by working families.

“We want to shine a light on people and families,” Porth said during a recent telephone press conference. “Traditionally, the federal poverty level has been used sort of as a measure but I think there is a growing realization that it is not an accurate way of measuring financial hardship.”

United Ways support programs that provide free income tax filing assistance to families, provide financial management coaches and even matching grants to families who commit to saving money for housing, education or transportation.

“Each United Way locally is doing something a little bit different to address ALICE,” said Virginia Mason, president and CEO of United Way of Southeastern Connecticut.

The study showed that to meet a “household survival budget” in Connecticut in 2016, a single adult needed an annual income of $24,672, an hourly wage of $12.34. A family of four — two adults, an infant and a preschool child — needed an income of $77,832, or $6,486 per month, an hourly wage of $38.92

Continue reading: The Day

Report: Many Connecticut Households can’t pay for basic needs

September 2, 2018

In Connecticut, almost half of households do not have the savings to cover three months of living expenses, risking a real financial spiral in the event of a typical family emergency (illness, car breakdown, appliance replacement, etc.).

In addition, the new ALICE Report reveals the following trends: Differences in financial security by age, race, and ethnicity persist, creating challenges for ALICE families. The growth in the “gig” economy and on-demand employment is shifting more financial risk to workers and ALICE households. ALICE families are more vulnerable to an unexpected emergency, because it is becoming more difficult to save and build assets. The changing composition of households are part of the ALICE story. The wealth-health gap in America leads to health insecurity. And the new ALICE Report provides many more insights into the causes and consequences of financial hardship.

The report recommends both short-term and long-term strategies to help affected families and strengthen communities. Connecticut’s United Ways are responding to provide a hand up for these households through a number of these short-term and long-term strategies.

Connecticut’s United Ways are helping working families to increase their financial security by building a life-long habit of saving. United Ways are promoting SaverLife Connecticut, which combines a goal-based savings incentive program digital financial coaching and online resources.

United Way organizations are working to help ALICE families build their assets and savings by supporting tax preparation at VITA sites where eligible families can secure tax credits (EITC, CTC) and begin saving, and through financial education and budget coaching.

Continue reading: The Register Citizen

United Way report shows more residents financially on the edge

By Kristina Tedeschi Wayne September 1, 2018

The ALICE acronym stands for Asset Limited, Income Constrained yet Employed, and the growing numbers are largely due to a climbing cost of living here in Connecticut, said Richard J. Porth, president and CEO of United Way Connecticut.

While Connecticut workers earn the highest median income when compared to the 17 other states that participate in the ALICE Project, he said, the cost of living here is also the highest.

“The real story in Connecticut is our cost of living,” Porth said. “That’s the biggest part of it.”

The report found the cost of a budget for a family of four increased by 23 percent in just six years, from 2010 to 2016. It also found the annual “household survival budget” stands at $23,976 for a single adult – which breaks down to earning an hourly wage of $11.99 – and $75,192 for two adults, one infant and one preschooler, or a wage of $37.60 per hour.

However, only 55 percent of jobs in Connecticut pay more than $20 per hour, according to Norwich Director of Human Services Lee-Ann Gomes.

And despite what many may believe, she said, people in ALICE households are hard workers who are employed at one or even two jobs.

“It’s the lady making my coffee every morning at Dunkin’ Donuts,” she said. “I think there’s this big myth that people are poor because of public assistance. That’s not true. Every family I see who can work right now is working.”

More than 10,000 households in the United Way of Southeastern Connecticut service area live in poverty, while more than 32,300 are considered ALICE households, according to the report.

Continue reading: Norwich Bulletin

Report: CT’s cost of living too high for 40% of households

By Joe Cooper August 27, 2018

Connecticut’s high costs of living are taking a major bite out of family earnings. A new report says 40 percent of Connecticut households are earning less than what is needed to run a family: housing, health care, food, child care, technology and transportation.

The Asset Limited Income Constrained Employed (ALICE) report by Connecticut United Ways says 30 percent of families (404,035) earn more than the federal poverty line but under a basic cost-of-living threshold. These households are known as ALICE.

Including households living in poverty, 40 percent (538,529) of Connecticut families are unable to afford housing, food, health care, child care, technology and transportation, according to the report, which draws from the U.S. Census and the American Community Survey. Connecticut families must earn almost $78,000 a year to run a household of four including one infant and one toddler.

Continue reading: Hartford Business Journal

United Way column: Even those who are working can be financially vulnerable

By Virginia Mason August 17, 2018

ALICE is an acronym for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, and Employed. It is a project of United Ways in a growing number of states: Connecticut, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Virginia, Washington and Wisconsin. Connecticut was one of the first three states to join the pilot project started in Morris County, New Jersey.

From a start-up effort of the United Way of Northern New Jersey, it has grown a network of over 450 United Ways and a national effort of 15 states. Shortly, a new Connecticut research report on the progress being made will be released.

The exhaustive report of 2017 on the consequences of insufficient income was designed to help United Ways and states to understand the struggles and needs of the ALICE community. The new report of 2018 is providing updated perspective based on accurate research which involves representatives from participating states. Matthew Krzyzek, representing the Connecticut Department of Labor serves on the National ALICE Research Advisory Committee. The collaborative model used by the 15 representatives from states participating in the project has insured that issues and consequences described in the report and those of all the states are included.

Continue reading: Norwich Bulletin

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