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.

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