Incentive to Save- New program promises reward for families meeting six-month goal

By Rob Ryser March 26, 2017

A new program to help Connecticut working families struggling to make ends meet start savings accounts promises a $60 reward if they save for six months. It may not sound like a lot of money, but it might be just the incentive some families need to start saving, sponsors of the incentive said last week. “If you have a savings account and you have a flat tire or dental emergency or a thousand other things, you can pay for it,” said Shana Beal, director of communications for EARN, a nonprofit that has teamed up with Connecticut United Ways to launch the savings initiative statewide.

The initiative is part of the United Way of Connecticut’s response to a special category of working families who earn more than the federal poverty limit of $24,000, but less than the $70,000 to afford housing, food, child care, health care and transportation. Known by the acronym ALICE, for asset-limited, income constrained and employed, the families represent 27 percent of the state population, United Way said.

Continue reading: The News-Times

Connecticut United Ways Announce Partnership to Help ALICE® Households Build Emergency Savings

March 28,2017

Connecticut United Ways are partnering with a San Francisco based nonprofit organization called EARN to bring a matched savings program to ALICE® (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) households in the State of Connecticut. The EARN Starter Savings Program is a six-month matched savings program in which individuals earning no more than 80% of the median household income in their region agree to save at least $20 per month and in return earn $10 in matched savings. At the end of program, they will have built up at least $180 worth of emergency savings. EARN reports that 80% of graduates from the Starter Savings Program continue to save beyond the six months of the program.

Savings is a core component of financial health. A savings habit – and the stability it brings – is as important as income. Savings address financial instability by providing a way for families to save for short-term emergencies and long-term assets, like a college education or a home. Lack of savings is the financial challenge American families’ worry about the most. In fact, one in three households nationwide have no savings. Community conversations held by United Ways across Connecticut with ALICE households echo this struggle.

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We need to change the conversation about poverty and inequality. It starts with compassion and kindness.

By Karen Weese March 10,2014; Republished March 14, 2017

Nicole Larson was the kind of person whose smile always made you want to smile back. It was only after a while that it struck you: She always smiled with her mouth closed.

It had been six years since Nicole last sat in a dentist’s chair, seven since her last full exam or X-rays. Childhood dental visits had been rare: Her parents’ low-wage jobs never had insurance, and after paying for rent and heat and food, there was rarely much left. As an adult, she worked long hours as a waitress and hotel housekeeper, but those jobs lacked insurance, too, and the meager pay always ran out before the month did.

Nicole learned to white-knuckle it through toothaches, popping handfuls of ibuprofen. She brushed constantly, rinsing with every oral rinse the drugstore sold. And she perfected a dimpled, twinkle-in-the-eye smile that always got a smile in return … but didn’t require her to open her mouth.

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United Ways Release 2016 ALICE® Multi-State Comparison of Financial Hardship

January 19, 2017

In 2016, United Ways in Connecticut, released their 2nd state-specific ALICE Report. ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) is a household with income above the Federal Poverty Level but below a basic cost-of-living Household Survival Budget. A new ALICE Multi-State Comparison, compares data across 13 states: Connecticut, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Washington, and Wisconsin, and analyzes trends effecting ALICE across the nation.

ALICE lives and works in every town and city in Connecticut. The recently released ALICE Multi-State Comparison, reports that of the 38 million households studied across 13 states, 40 percent were living below the ALICE threshold. The 2016 Connecticut ALICE Update Report revealed that 27 percent (up from 25 percent in 2014) of households in Connecticut have earnings above the federal poverty level but below what it costs to afford basic necessities such as housing, food, child care, health care and transportation. When combined with the 11 percent of households living in poverty; more than 1 in 3 (38 percent) of Connecticut households are struggling to get by.

Continue reading: Connecticut Council for Philanthropy
Read the full 2016 ALICE Multi-State Comparison

Equality means dignity: Report highlights how working Americans struggle

By Ali Solis and Eileen Fitzgerald January 23, 2017

This week we celebrated the contributions of a great American Leader, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The United Way’s
recently released ALICE report raises the question of whether Dr. King’s Dreams for America are achievable in
today’s society. The movement that Dr. King led was not only inspirational, but it was essential. We know that his
voice is stilled today, but we must continue to heed his message.

United Way’s ALICE Report provides a comprehensive look at working families who are struggling financially in 13
states, and found that at least 31 percent of households in each state could not afford basic needs such as housing,
child care, food, health care, and transportation in 2014.

While there are many households across the country that are living below the Federal Poverty Level (FPL), there
are a significant number of households who qualify as, what United Way has deemed, “ALICE” – Asset Limited,
Income Constrained, and Employed.

The report collected and analyzed data from 13 states (Connecticut, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana,
Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Washington and Wisconsin) and determined that millions of
working Americans are struggling and unable to live a life of dignity. It is important to note that there are 8.5 million
renters with incomes below the ALICE threshold, yet there are fewer than 5.6 million available rental homes –
subsidized and market rate – that these households can afford without being severely cost-burdened. That is a gap
of 3 million homes.

Continue reading: The Hill

Read the complete 2016 ALICE Multi-State Comparison

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

Register for the Zoning: How Local Decisions Shape Our Communities’ Future IForum taking place on January 26, 2017 from 8:30- 11:30

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