For Angela, nothing is more important to her than her children. She would do anything to keep her family, safe, healthy and happy. Like so many single parents in our community, it has not been an easy road for Angela.
Angela works full-time but has struggled to pay her utility bills, fell behind on rent and was then forced to live with friends in a small, two-bedroom apartment. When that didn’t work out, Angela and the children were homeless again.
ALICE, an acronym for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed, is a new way of defining and understanding the struggles of households that earn above the Federal Poverty Level, but not enough to afford a bare-bones household budget.
For these families, the cost of living is outpacing what they can earn, even while working 40 hours a week. They are stressed, exhausted, and facing the choice between most basic needs like housing, food, childcare, and health care.
The choices that have to be made are nearly impossible. Do you pay the rent or fill a prescription? Work full-time, or pay for childcare? Fix the car or buy groceries. Each day is filled with one major decision after another.
Who is alice?
You’ve met ALICE, even if you didn’t know it. They are the cashier at your local grocery store, the barista at your favorite coffee shop, the secretary at your child’s school and sometimes your family and friends. ALICE is anyone who is one unexpected expense away from being pushed over the edge.
Were you ever an ALICE?
Did you struggle to pay student loans and your car payment, all while working at an entry level job? Did you ever sacrifice good health insurance in order to make sure you could pay rent? Or were you like me, and there was a time when your refrigerator contained only pickles and cheese while you waited for that next part-time paycheck to come in before going grocery shopping.
Most of us have faced a time in our lives when we had to make these important decisions and we all remember the stress and sleepless nights that came with those days. Especially those who don't have a close community to ask for help.
What do we do?
Our mission at United Way of Central Minnesota is to support our ALICE community by bringing together many local partners to collaborate and offer assistance.
Throughout 2021, you will hear many new United Way of Central Minnesota initiatives that will support ALICE. Things like our Community Childcare Fund that is raising funds to help with things like expanding existing childcare facilities to create more openings, providing monthly childcare subsidies to take the burden off of working parents and providing assistance with training, expenses and equipment.
You will also hear about our Small Business United 365 HomeBASE program. This program is striving to:
B – Break Barriers
A – Address Inequities
S – Secure Housing
E – Encourage Sustainability
They are currently working with community partners to develop a microloan program that will help get our ALICE population into their own home by assisting with rent and security deposits of those who qualify.
The road to success
Going back to our story, Angela never gave up. And despite countless moves, she understood that keeping her kids in the same school was not only critical to their development, it was necessary in order for them to feel that some part of their lives was stable.
Thanks to programs like those listed above Angela was given a hand up, not a hand out. This hand not only helped her put a roof over her head, but one that could give her the tools and guidance to make lasting change in her life.
Thanks to donors of United Way of Central Minnesota and partner organizations, Angela is well on her way to living the life she always imagined for her and her children. She is no longer just dreaming of owning a home, providing her children with a solid education and becoming financially stable – with our support, she is working hard to make it happen.