Tuesday, June 18th 2019, 4:38 PM EDT by Cody Carlson
The United Way of Pennsylvania is taking a closer look at what it takes for a modern household to survive. The organization released the state’s first ever ALICE report, which stands for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed. It highlights the amount of residents living above the Federal poverty level, but still struggling to maintain financial stability.
“We can use that to benchmark how many Pennsylvanians are actually financially struggling, and it’s a much different story than the federal poverty level is able to tell us,” says Kristen Rotz, President of United Way of Pennsylvania.
The ALICE report gives an objective measure to understand what it costs a household to survive. According to the report, a family of four needs $59, 340, or $20,760 for a single adult, for basic household expenses. That’s compared to the Federal Poverty Level guidelines, which says a family of four needs $24,600, or $12,060 for a single adult, to survive.
“The Federal Poverty Level was established at a time when food was about 25% of a families household budget, it costs about $50,000 to buy a house at that point in history, so we’re going to call this the modern measure of what it takes to survive,” Rotz explains.
In 2017, which is the year the report is based on, 37% of Pennsylvania households, or 1,856,785, were described as ALICE. 42% of 108,458 Erie County households, 38% of 36,050 Crawford County households, and 41% of 17,095 Warren County households qualified as ALICE. The results of this report will help the United Way help ALICE households in the future.
“We at the United Way will be using this data to support some statewide advocacy initiatives that we think are really important to help ALICE on a path to financial stability,” says Rotz.
Preston Stackfield is the head of an ALICE household in Carlisle, PA. He’s married, with three kids, and knows the importance of budgeting for future success. He’s passing on this advice for everyone, not just ALICE households.
“It doesn’t really matter how much you make. Without the knowledge of budgeting and planning for the future, you could one day be in ALICE,” Stackfield says.
The United Way of Pennsylvania also has programs to help those struggling with financial stability, including free tax preparation. The organization helps families regardless of income status as well.
“PA211, which is a health and human services hotline, it’s available to everyone regardless of their income level. If they’re having issues with any health or human services need, 211 is available 24/7 to help those folks,” explains Rotz.
The full 109-page ALICE report is available online here.