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, 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 or 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.
In WI between 2019 and 2021, the average annual cost of living increased 16% for a single adult, 13% for a single senior, and 11% for a family of four.
UNITED for ALICE
In order to better understand this growing population, United For ALICE provides a framework, language, statistics, and tools that community stakeholders can use to inform policy and drive innovation. The Research Center is the hub of UnitedForALICE.org — a one-stop source for exploring the latest ALICE data, on a national scale down to the local level in our partner states.
Making Tough Choices
ALICE families may face tough choices and unexpected dilemmas at any time. This poverty simulation takes you through some of those difficult decisions ALICE households make on a monthly basis. Plan for the simulation to take about 15 minutes.