ALICE, an acronym for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed, is a new way of defining and understanding the struggles of households that earn above the Federal Poverty Level, but not enough to afford a bare-bones household budget.
For far too many families, the cost of living outpaces what they earn. These households struggle to manage even their most basic needs - housing, food, transportation, child care, health care, and necessary technology.
When funds run short, cash-strapped households are forced to make impossible choices, such as deciding between quality child care or paying the rent, filling a prescription or fixing the car. These short-term decisions have long-term consequences not only for ALICE families, but for all of us.
WHO IS ALICE
Despite the critical nature of many jobs to keep our local economies running – educating our youngest children, keeping our ailing parent safe – these workers often struggle to keep their own households from financial ruin.
ALICE is your child care worker, the cashier at your supermarket, the gas attendant, the salesperson at your big box store, your waitress, a home health aide, an office clerk. ALICE cannot always pay the bills, has little or nothing in savings, and is forced to make tough choices such as deciding between quality child care or paying the rent. One unexpected car repair or medical bill can push these financially strapped families over the edge.
The future success of our communities is directly tied to the financial stability of these fragile ALICE households.
We envision a world where all those who work to keep our local economies running can support themselves and their families.
Traditional measures of poverty do not capture the magnitude of people who are struggling financially. Our mission is to make the invisible visible by shining a light on the true number of families struggling in the U.S.
Our new metrics offer a better way to count and understand ALICE, and to ultimately inform policy decisions to affect positive change for this growing portion of our population. Armed with this data, we aim to change the national dialogue about the impact on families, communities, and all of us when financial crisis is the norm for so many.