The well-being of individuals and families is important for the growth of Allen County. As individuals become more stable and financially secure, they spend more and invest more in the community around them, which bolsters the local economy. Success for the area relies on the welfare of everyone, which is why United Way of Allen County is working with our most financially unstable families.
The Census Bureau’s Income and Poverty Report for 2014 shows that the poverty rate in the U.S. remained statistically the same as in 2013. Does that mean our families are stable?
Gayle Goodrich: Although the Income and Poverty Report provides a benchmark for economic well-being, it does not provide insight on financial stability within our community. The poverty guidelines are the same for the 48 contiguous states; it does not take into account cost of living differences between, for example, Fort Wayne and Seattle. This is why United Way, in partnership with the School of Public Affairs and Administration at Rutgers University developed the United Way ALICE Report. ALICE stands for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed and represents hard-working individuals who are struggling to make ends meet.
So what does the ALICE report do?
Goodrich: The ALICE report establishes a basic cost of living called the Household Survival Budget for each county within the six states that participated. The Household Survival Budget includes only the basic needs to survive: housing, childcare, food, transportation, healthcare, taxes and 10 percent to cover any overages in these budget areas. The budget does not include luxuries such as cable television, internet access, gifts or a retirement account. Housing for a family of four is budgeted based on renting a two-bedroom apartment with total housing cost of $634 per month. We know that an Allen County family of four, with two children in childcare, requires an income of $47,138 in order to afford basic needs. Both parents would require a wage of $11.33/hour working full-time.
How many of our Allen County families are ALICE?
Goodrich: In Allen County, 22 percent of our families live below the poverty line and lack sufficient income to afford their basic needs. That is one out of every five families. Even when nonprofit and government assistance is included in the income for ALICE families, there is a 23 percent income gap. These families are working and providing valuable services in our community like caring for our children and our aging parents. These families have to make difficult choices every day such as whether they will put food on the table or go to the doctor for a medical concern. They are one emergency away from financial catastrophe.
What percentage of families remains financially unstable longterm?
Goodrich: Although the ALICE report does not directly track the mobility of families with incomes that fall below the ALICE poverty levels, the recent Census Bureau’s Income and Poverty Report reveals that from 2009 to 2012, only 2.7 percent of households remained in constant poverty, dispelling the myth that poverty is chronic.
What is United Way doing to help ALICE families?
Goodrich: At United Way of Allen County, we work to connect families to the resources they need through our 2-1-1 Service Center, which is supported by our generous community and partnering agencies. However, the needs are so great that it will take our entire community coming together to build the foundations needed to provide opportunities for ALICE families to achieve financial stability.
Address: 334 E. Berry Street Fort Wayne, Indiana 46802
Phone: (260) 422-4776
Years in Business: 93
Number of Employees: 25
Products & Services: United Way of Allen County unites our community’s time, talent and treasure to cultivate and advance community solutions that address the most critical issues around basic needs, education, financial stability and healthy lives.