By Kevin Wilhelm
Here at Middlesex United Way, we are working to create a stronger community for ALICE – and you can help.
From now until the end of June, Middlesex United Way is raising funds to create stronger communities for families at or below the ALICE threshold. You can help by texting DOUBLEMYGIFT to 71777 or visiting www.middlesexunitedway.org/doublemygift. Your gift will be matched dollar for dollar by the following sponsors: Peter and Alexa Daitch, Peach Pit Foundation, Liberty Bank, A&A Office Systems, Suburban Stationers, Patti Vassia, DATTCO Inc., Jarvis Products Corp. Guilmartin, DiPiro & Sokolowski, and Seasons Federal Credit Union.
Looking for other ways to get involved? Learn more at www.middlesexunitedway.org/campaignforalice.
Please allow me to introduce you to ALICE.
ALICE stands for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed. The acronym refers to the 1 in 4 Connecticut households that earn above the federal poverty line but under a basic cost-of-living threshold. There are more than double the number of ALICE households in Connecticut than households living in poverty. Combined with those in poverty, 35% of Connecticut households can’t afford the basics of housing, food, health care, childcare, and transportation.
The federal poverty threshold for a family of four is about $24,000, yet this does not even begin to reflect the cost of living in Connecticut. The minimum cost of basic necessities like housing, food, health care, childcare, and transportation will run a family of four $64,689 a year, yet 51% of all Connecticut jobs pay less than $20 an hour—or slightly more than $40,000 if the position is full-time.
Housing is the largest – and least flexible – expense in most family budgets. Analysts agree that housing should cost no more than 30 to 33 percent of your income. However, many Connecticut families spend as much as 50 percent of their income on housing, leaving too few dollars for other basic needs. The result – bad options and lots of stress – hurts families and has a ripple effect throughout the community. In Middlesex County, 22 percent of homeowners and 40 percent of renters are under extreme housing burden, meaning they pay more than 35 percent of their income on housing.
Together, we can create opportunities for ALICE.
Middlesex United Way is working to advance the areas of education, income, health and housing for ALICE families, and we’re advocating for policies to help ALICE get ahead. For example, we support basic needs programs like those that provide food and shelter as well as the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program that offers free tax help to ensure taxpayers receive the credits and refunds for which they are eligible. We support job and literacy training, programs that support adults with disabilities, and services to assist seniors so they may continue living at home. In the area of housing, we’re supporting initiatives like the Middlesex County Coalition on Housing and Homelessness’ Prevention Fund, which has helped more than 300 families, including 400 children, avoid eviction and remain in their homes.
Thank you to our generous sponsors and to all those who contribute to this effort.