All across our country, families are working hard, but still walking a financial tightrope. With data from a new statewide project called ALICE®, we now know that more than one in three families in our state are struggling to afford the basic essentials. This data-driven financial hardship project was launched by United Way of Wisconsin and supported by a network of statewide United Ways, including United Way of Northern Ozaukee.
WHO IS ALICE®?
ALICE® stands for Asset-Limited, Income-Constrained, Employed. This acronym describes households that are above the federal poverty level, but don’t make enough money to cover basic needs. They are working and paying taxes, but not earning enough to be financially stable.
WORKING HARD AND STRUGGLING TO SURVIVE
The ALICE data project also provides data on how much it actually costs to live in each county, city and town in Wisconsin. For example, a family of four with one preschooler and one infant living in Ozaukee County requires a basic survival budget of $75,420. This budget is truly bare bones — it doesn’t include any extra money for a cell phone, or cable, or car repairs. For this family of four to achieve a degree of financial security, their yearly household income would need to be $147,396.
United Ways across Wisconsin are working to mobilize their communities to champion ALICE families through policy and programs. In Ozaukee County, we are working with partners to support ALICE families through United Way Community Impact programs.
There are currently 13 programs funded through the Community Allocation Fund focused on health, education, financial stability and immediate needs. Programs funded include assistance with food, rent, adult literacy programs, mental health services, mentoring programs (both school-based and community-based) for our youth, parent education classes, and senior well-being programs.