By Rosie Allen-Herring, President and CEO, United Way of the National Capital Area 

Every two years, a grassroots research initiative takes place to help our region identify our ALICE–an acronym for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed–populations. ALICE represents the growing number of households in our communities that are employed but do not earn enough to afford basic necessities.

This week, United Way of the National Capital Area (United Way NCA) announces November 15-19, 2021, as ALICE Awareness Week. Here’s why we all need to be aware of our ALICE neighbors and what they need to bridge their financial gap:

Based on 2018 ALICE reports for Prince George’s County, 35 percent of households are ALICE– seven percent of households are at the poverty threshold and earn $26,500 (for a home of 4 persons) or less. This means that a large percentage of Prince George’s County ALICE households do not qualify for federal programs that could help alleviate the burden of some of their monthly expenses, such as food and healthcare.

To illustrate the financial struggle of an ALICE household, let’s simulate a family of four and assume two adults are jointly earning the average income for the region of $83,034 and supporting two children. According to the fiscal year 2021 Fair Market Rent, our ALICE family needs to earn an annual income of $70,600 to afford a two-bedroom rental. Thus, the cost of housing alone wipes out approximately 85 percent of this family’s household income.  To further illustrate the financial deficit, based on the ALICE Household Survival Budget, this family of four needs a total of $96,792 minimum each year to cover the cost of food, childcare, healthcare, utilities, transportation and other incidentals.

By partnering with United Way NCA, nonprofits, academic institutions, corporations, and other state organizations are using the ALICE data to stimulate meaningful discussion and inform strategies for positive change. Your United Way NCA is part of that change. We are using this data to inform our goals, strategies and programs that help create more equitable access to health, education, and economic opportunity. We hope to gain your support, partnerships and advocacy as we practice equity and as we look ahead. We believe that when none are ignored, all will thrive.

To learn more about ALICE, please visit www.unitedwaynca.org/ALICE.

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