Updated: Mar 22, 2021
United for ALICE, a coalition of United Ways, corporations, non-profits and foundations in more than 20 states, is a study of struggling families and a grassroots movement to change the national dialogue about financial hardship.
Who is ALICE? ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) households have income above the FPL but below the ALICE Threshold — the income needed to afford the most basic household budget. ALICE households earn too much to qualify as “poor” but are still unable to make ends meet. They often work as cashiers, nursing assistants, office clerks, servers, laborers, and security guards. These types of jobs are vital to keeping our economy running smoothly, but they do not provide adequate wages to cover the basics of housing, child care, food, transportation, health care, and technology for these ALICE workers and their families.
Below are a few exerpts from a fact sheet outlining the impact of COVID-19 stimilus payments on ALICE households and how much of these effects are interwoven in the type of work Blaine County Charitable Fund does.
"The dual health and economic crises of the COVID-19 pandemic have hit hard for ALICE — households that are Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed, with income above the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) but not high enough to afford essentials in the communities where they live. In 2018, 42% of U.S. households were below the ALICE Threshold." Blaine County sits at 52% of the community that are below the ALICE Threshold. This is a 13% increase over the previous two years.
"Payments will help fill gaps, but not provide financial stability. Since the pandemic began more than a year ago, many ALICE households (who had little or no savings to fall back on) have endured reduced wages and increased costs. One-time assistance will not solve the long-term structural economic problems that made these families vulnerable to the pandemic in the first place."
Blaine County Charitable Fund will need to remain steadfast in their efforts to be a lifeline and continue to offer help even when stimulus checks are received, and especially for those that won't receive this help.
"Hardship differs by region. Because the cost of living varies across the country, the flat eligibility levels cover more ALICE households in some regions than others and the stimulus payments will go further in low-cost areas... In high-cost, mostly urban areas, some ALICE households will not be eligible and payments will not be enough to cover even a month of household necessities."
Another toll the high cost of living in Blaine County will have on our local families, individuals and businesses' abilities to recover from the economic impacts of COVID.
"During the Great Recession, all households one income bracket above the ALICE Threshold became ALICE and never fully recovered. It is vitally important for families, communities, and our national economy that we not repeat this history."
And our local economy! We need to get this right, right now.
"Costs for borrowing are high for those forced to use credit cards, payday loans, or other high-interest financial products to cover regular bills and expenses." This relates to the timing. Whether it's the stimulus check in hand or other necessary help, the reality for those that will get further and further behind is very real.
"Because Black and Hispanic households are more likely to be ALICE, direct individual stimulus payments to low-income households will provide some much-needed immediate relief. But because these disparities are the result of systemic injustices embedded in our economic and social systems, it will take much greater measures to permanently reduce racial inequity."
At Blaine County Charitable Fund, the make up of our applicants have been moved from 85% of total number of households served by summer of 2020 being LatinX, to 76% LatinX by early 2021. The shift can likely be attributed to the initial job losses were concentrated in the lowest-paid industries held mostly by our LatinX community members, and the BCCF fund gaining more broad recognition in the community as a source of help.
Read the FULL FACT SHEET on why and how the COVID stimulus is important to bring people through the devastating affects of this pandemic.