“Will my 11-year-old be safe at home alone if I take a second job to help pay the bills?”
“Should we pay the car insurance bill or buy winter clothes for the kids?”
“Do I pay the utility bill, or get a critical prescription filled?”
Every day, and alarming 39 percent of Maryland residents must make tough financial decisions, often with life-changing consequences—for them, for their families, and for their communities. And that was before the COVID-19 pandemic. This group includes the ALICE population—an acronym for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed.
Each of us knows ALICE. Some of us have been ALICE. They are the people who work one, two, ore more jobs and who operate and maintain the foundation of our daily lives.
ALICE is our daycare provider, the home health nurse that cares for our father, the server at our favorite restaurant, the construction worker helping to remodel our bathroom, or the coworker in the cube next to yours. They make too much to get help such as government assistance with food and housing costs, and struggle to make ends meet. And they are often one unexpected expense—a major car repair, a medical emergency, an unforeseen household expense—away from a financial disaster.
The ALICE Report, released by United Ways throughout the state of Maryland, reveals that more than a third of households can’t afford the state’s high cost of living and don’t earn enough to afford basic necessities like housing, food, transportation, or healthcare.
When ALICE is at risk, we are all at risk. Stronger, stable working families mean stronger, stable communities. And that’s something that United Way, our donors, volunteers, staff and partners fight for every day.