Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed.
We are coining a new term – ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) -- to describe the many residents in our community who are working hard, yet still, struggle to make ends meet. We know these people, sometimes referred to as the “working poor.” ALICE households earn more than the official U.S. poverty level but less than the basic cost of living.
ALICE represents our community members working in jobs that are needed but don’t always pay enough to afford the basics, such as our child care teachers, home health aides, mechanics, store clerks or office assistants.
WE ARE ALL INTERCONNECTED
We all have a vested interest in improving conditions for ALICE. When ALICE can’t afford the basics, the costs are high both for these families and for the wider community.
ALICE Households Suffer without Sufficient Income
When ALICE households do not have enough income, they have to make difficult choices to reduce their expenses. They may be forced to skimp on child care, healthy food, or car insurance. These “savings” threaten their health, safety, and future.
If a family cannot afford child care in a quality facility, they may substitute with an inexperienced relative, jeopardizing their child’s safety and learning opportunities. To reduce housing costs, ALICE may move farther away from work, resulting in a longer commute as well as additional travel and child care expenses.
Other short-term survival strategies such as skipping preventative health care or a bill payment also have long-term penalties, such as poor health, fines, and larger bills in the future.
The Whole Community Suffers when ALICE has Insufficient Income
ALICE’s existence has long-term implications for all of us. When ALICE workers cannot afford an emergency, let alone invest in their neighborhood, communities may experience instability, higher taxes, or a decline in economic growth. When ALICE children are not ready for school, they add a burden to the education system. When ALICE households cannot afford preventative health care, they are more likely to place a future strain on the health care system, increasing insurance premiums for all. When ALICE is forced to move far away from work, it results in more congestion and possible traffic accidents for all commuters.
When ALICE struggles, we all suffer.