United Way of Middlesex County President and CEO, Kevin Wilhelm, talks about ALICE Families, VITA and EARN

May 2017

Watch this video at Comcast Newsmakers

Free Money, Enrichment Scholarships Offered To Newtown ALICE Families

By John Voket April 4, 2017

Are you living in a Newtown ALICE household? If so, Newtown Social Services may have some free money for you. ALICE, as identified by United Way agencies, is Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed — basically a paycheck to paycheck household that may be one major car repair, illness, or other family crisis away from financial trouble. By technical definition, ALICE is a way of defining and understanding our families, neighbors, and colleagues (men and women) who work hard, earn above the federal poverty level, but not enough to afford a basic household budget of housing, child care, food, transportation, and health care.

The United Way ALICE Project is a collaborative effort to improve the lives of vulnerable, low-income ALICE households. Based on the overwhelming success of the research in identifying and communicating the needs of ALICE households, the project has grown from a pilot in Morris County, N.J., in 2007, to the entire state of New Jersey in 2012, and to the national level in 2014 with reports in six states representing one-quarter of the US population.

The partners in this grassroots effort are working together to give ALICE a national voice. By sharing common language and understanding, stakeholders are better equipped to tackle crucial issues for ALICE and the wider community.

Continue reading The Newtown Bee

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

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.

Continue reading: news.Hamlethub.com

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.

Continue reading: alternet.org

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