Who is ALICE? New United Way Report on the Trends Impacting Working Families That Struggle to Make Ends Meet

United Way ALICE® Report: State’s working poor labor force is growing

New York is inching dangerously close to having 50 percent of its families lacking sufficient income and resources for housing, food, child care, transportation and health care, according to a report released today by United Way of New York State.

In the last two years, United Ways in 16 states have participated in ALICE, which stands for – Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed – to place a spotlight on a growing population of residents who are working, but struggle to afford basic necessities.

“Our report shows that this is not an urban or rural issue – it affects every corner of our state,” said Brian Hassett, CEO of the United Way of the Greater Capital Region. “Too many New Yorkers find themselves above the poverty line but below the economic line that allows them to provide health care and educational advantages for their children, and to save for their own future.”

“United Way of the Dutchess-Orange Region encourages all community stakeholders to carefully study and consider the ramifications of this information,” stated Jeannie Montano, President & CEO of United Way of the Dutchess-Orange Region. “The number of households living in poverty and ALICE households in our counties is deeply concerning. 39% of households in Dutchess County (29% ALICE) and in 41% of households in Orange County (29% ALICE) are struggling to afford basic needs. This number rises exponentially in our cities with 64% of households in the City of Poughkeepsie (42% ALICE) and 68% in the City of Newburgh (34% ALICE). This means many of our neighbors live on a daily basis with a bare-minimum budget, sometimes working two or more jobs, but still unable to save and are highly vulnerable to unexpected expenses, which could be the cost of a new tire.”

The report (available to download at http://UnitedWayALICE.org/NewYork) uses data from a variety of sources, including the U.S. Census and the American Community Survey, to provide tools that quantify the number of households in New York’s workforce that are struggling financially.

The New York ALICE Report reveals:

·         2.1 million households in NYS have incomes above the poverty level but below the ALICE threshold budget for survival.  With an additional 1.1 million households below the poverty line, 44% of New York households can no longer afford all of life’s basic necessities:  food, shelter, child care, transportation and health care.

·         To meet New York’s average ALICE threshold for survival, a single adult needs an annual income of $20,496 or $10.25/hour. In Dutchess & Orange Counties to meet the average ALICE threshold for survival, a single adult needs an annual income of $25,440 or $12.72/hour. Yet nearly 1 million New Yorkers who work in retail sales, restaurants and home health services are paid below the ALICE threshold.

·         From 2007 to 2014, the cost of housing, food and health care in New York far exceeded the rise in salaries, thus increasing the number of ALICE households. The report’s town-by-town breakdown shows that ALICE exists statewide among all age groups, household types, and racial and ethnic groups.

ALICE families face a variety of challenges:  low-wage jobs located far from their homes (with the attendant rise in transportation costs); and having few or no assets to cushion the cost of an unexpected health emergency or caregiving need, and limiting the opportunities for their children.

“United Way’s Hudson Valley Region 2-1-1 hotline will be extending call hours in January. Now ALICE families, who often cannot take time off during their working hours to even make a phone call, will be able to reach 2-1-1’s knowledgeable call specialists daily  from 8AM to 10PM,” noted Jeannie Montano. “In addition, the information that the ALICE report provides about our neighbors in Dutchess and Orange counties will be used by United Way of the Dutchess-Orange Region Community Impact Income Council in the future. Through United Way and its community partners, many of our ALICE neighbors can receive needed help. The FamilyWize Prescription Discount card, the Orange County Fuel Fund, and free tax preparation through the Hudson Valley CA$H Coalition and AARP Tax Aide are just a few of the many initiatives that we support that can make a difference for our ALICE neighbors.”

The New York ALICE Report provides an analysis of how many households are struggling in every town, and what it costs to pay for basic necessities in different parts of the state (Household Survival Budget).

United Ways work with many community partners to provide support to ALICE families to help them get through a crisis and avoid a downward spiral into even worse circumstances such as homelessness as well as assisting with financial literacy, education and workforce readiness.

The ALICE Report recommends both short-term and long-term strategies to help ALICE families and strengthen our communities. The ALICE Report will be used by United Ways around the state, in conversation with our many partners and supporters, to understand ALICE’s circumstances better, and find better ways to help ALICE.

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ALICE Report

The New York ALICE Report was funded by the 38 United Ways in New York State and KeyBank with assistance from IBM. To read a copy of the report and view state and municipal data on the size and demographics of ALICE households and to learn more about how this financial hardship affects ALICE families and our communities, go to http://UnitedWayALICE.org/NewYork