Financial hardship forum set for Feb. 25 at Capitol

I invite you to join us at the Legislative Office Building Feb. 25 for a legislative forum on the true scope of financial hardship in Connecticut. This year, I am fortunate enough to be able to serve on the panel at the 2019 We Stand With ALICE forum as we have an in-depth discussion on strategies to help ALICE households achieve financial security.

ALICE, which stands for Asset Limited Income Constrained Employed, is defined as individuals or families who earn wages above the federal poverty level but below a basic cost-of-living threshold. Despite working hard at often more than one job, these households struggle to make ends meet.

More families in Connecticut are facing financial hardship, according to the 2018 ALICE Report released this month by Connecticut United Ways. The update to the original ALICE Report made public in 2014, and again in 2016, reveals more than one in three Connecticut residents are struggling to afford basic needs.

The new report documents the challenges facing ALICE families throughout our state and identifies trends that affect the ability of those identified as ALICE to achieve financial security. In Middlesex County, there are 16,834 households who fall under the criteria, approximately 25 percent of all the area’s households.

According to the 2018 Connecticut United Ways ALICE Report, 40 percent of Connecticut households are unable to make ends meet. Of this 40 percent, 30 percent (404,035 households) have earnings above the federal poverty line, but below a basic cost-of-living threshold known as the household survival budget.

ALICE cares for our children and aging parents, fixes our cars, and works in our local grocery stores, retail stores, and restaurants. ALICE is our friend, neighbor, coworker and family member. We lean on ALICE for support, yet, many ALICE households are one emergency away from a financial crisis, impacting their ability to feed their family, heat their home, maintain their housing and ensure medical care.

The Connecticut United Ways, the Commission on Women, Children, and Seniors, and the Commission on Equity and Opportunity are sponsoring a legislative forum on financial hardship Feb. 25. The forum will focus on the immediate needs of ALICE families and strategies to help families achieve financial security.

The event will run from 1 to 3 p.m. in Room 2-E at 300 Capital Ave., Hartford. Coffee and light refreshments will be offered in the 2nd Floor Atrium prior to the event from noon to 1 p.m. The forum is free and open to the public, though anyone planning to attend is asked to register at

The agenda will include speakers, including Steven Hernandez, executive director of the Commission on Women, Children and Seniors and Commission on Equity and Opportunities; Richard Porth, CEO of the United Way of Connecticut, Karen Perham-Lippman, deputy commissioner of the Department of Consumer Protection, Nancy Velez-Cruz, administrative assistant at the State Department of Education, and Robert Kosior, senior vice president and CEO of ConnectiCare.

Kevin Wilhelm is CEO and president of the Middletown-based Middlesex United Way.