Shining a Light on a Hidden population: Meet ALICE
Consider this: 30% of Hernando households are walking a financial tightrope. They are working hard, but falling short of what they need to consistently cover the basic costs of living. Unable to save for the future, they are vulnerable to a single emergency that can push them in crisis and even poverty.
ALICE refers to the population in our community who are Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed. The ALICE Population represents those among us who are working whose salaries do not match Hernando's general cost of living. They are educated, hardworking and striving to create a better life for themselves and their families. Basic costs like housing, food and gas are difficult for some due to more people living paycheck to paycheck where one car repair or medical bill can tip them over into financial crisis.
Many organizations focus on supporting those individuals and families who have hit bottom. Is there a better way? Can we help these individuals regain their footing before they slipped over the edge? Can we prevent people from losing the means to survive and thrive?
To achieve significant community impact we must first understand the population of families working hard, but falling short. United Way commissioned the ALICE Report to unite our community around strategies that lead to a more stable and prosperous Hernando community.
"ALICE is a real and significant part of our community; when we ignore ALICE, we risk the future well-being of our communities."
The ALICE Report shows 44% of Hernando County's population at risk, with 14% already in poverty and 30% being considered the ALICE population - one crisis away from poverty. ALICE families and individuals represent our neighbors, friends and co-workers. They care for our children, serve our meals and keep the office functioning. Their work supports all of us. Despite working, often more than one job, the ALICE population earns too little for a sustainable lifestyle and ultimate survival budget. An increasing number of households are living paycheck to paycheck and our community feels the consequences.
United Way has long worked with the ALICE population to help build better lives. The Report will clarify some of the complex challenges they face and provide us with valuable information for building even better solutions focused on improving their lives and sustainability within our communities.
The ALICE Report is a compreshensive 258 page report. Here are some highlighted pages you'll want to focus on:
- Executive Summary......pg 1
- What's New?......pg 2
- At-A-Glance: Florida......pg 3
- ALICE by The Numbers......pg 6-12
- Household Survival Budget Components......pg 14
- ALICE in The Workforce & GIG Economy......pg 16-21
- Emerging Trends......pg 22-27
- ALICE & HURRICANE IRMA......pg 28
- NEXT STEPS, Strategies to Assist ALICE Families......pg 32-34
- Raising awareness that the ALICE population exists and is essential to Florida’s economy.
- Utilizing data to evaluate programs, policies and systems that make it easier for ALICE to access opportunities to work hard and sustainably provide for their families and future.
- Collaborating with businesses, governments and community groups to identify and advocate for solutions addressing the underlying issues that hold our families, schools, businesses and communities back from the bright future our Sunshine State deserves.
- Florida’s United Ways are joining together in a unified effort to advocate for State and Federal legislative issues of critical importance to the communities they serve throughout the state.
- Healthy behaviors – ensuring individuals and families in Hernando County are physically and emotionally healthy and avoid risky behaviors. Programs focus on identifying barriers and prevention support groups.
- Access to affordable care & services – addressing the importance that Hernando County residents have access to quality healthcare and support services. Programs also help lower costs to the public health system through prevention.
- FamilyWize - the high cost for medication prevents many individuals from filling the prescriptions they need. This RX discount card grants an average savings of 42% on select prescriptions whether you are insured or uninsured!
- Youth Support – provides access to resources, leadership opportunities, early education tools, annual scholarships, etc.
- Dolly Parton Imagination Library – thousands of prekindergarten children receive a FREE book in the mail every month despite the family's economic status. This encourages parents and caregivers to read to their children prior to kindergarten in preparation for school readiness.
- Many other funded programs provide after school tutoring, supports for children with special needs, early education, GED and vocational training, and other services that promote educational opportunities for all.
- Florida Master Money Mentors – a comprehensive financial stability initiative helping individuals and families progress along a path to prosperity by Earning, Keeping and Growing family income and wealth. This is accomplished with one-on-one mentoring and free workshops focused on budgeting, savings, retirement plans, credit use, and banking.
- VITA – The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program provides free tax preparation services to ALICE families and individuals saving an average of $250 per return while collecting Earned Income Tax Credits. The preparers are trained and certified by the IRS. Multiple VITA locations can be found across the county in both Spring Hill & Brooksville.
- Other programs provide emergency food and direct support to ensure Hernando families have a access to a true pathway to prosperity.
- 2-1-1 Hernando – aligns and connects residents in need of support or direction to existing services. 2-1-1 is a database of local Health & Human Services.
- Student Board – promotes leadership and coordinates programs/community solutions, including the development of youth leaders, to focus on early education and food pantry nutrition, to build healthier communities.
- Advocacy – convening community stakeholders and engaging elected officials from local to federal, we work to promote sound public policy and legislation that benefit the common good.
Please join us in raising awareness and stimulating a fresh dialogue among community leaders about how, together, we can provide the ALICE population an opportunity to succeed.
If you are looking for direct asistance from one of the many programs supported by United Way of Hernando County or our Partner Agencies, please contact 2-1-1.
If you have questions about the United Way ALICE Report and how to understand or apply it, please call 352-688-2026.