In the Fall of 2020, United Ways of Harrisonburg and Rockingham County, Front Royal-Warren County and Northern Shenandoah Valley partnered with United For ALICE, a center of innovation, research, and action around financial hardship, to conduct a survey to gauge the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our local community. Over 2,000 people living in the Shenandoah Valley responded to tell us about how their households have been impacted by the pandemic since March 1, 2020. The results of this survey provide important insights into the issues ALICE households are facing during this time of profound uncertainty.
When COVID-19 hit, nearly 1.3 million Virginia households were already one emergency away from financial ruin — a 10-year record high — setting the stage for the unprecedented economic impact of the crisis, according to the state’s latest ALICE Report, released by United Ways of Virginia, in partnership with United For ALICE.
Over the last decade, Virginia’s low-income families systematically lost buying power and financial stability as the high cost of essentials outpaced wages, driving the number of ALICE households to rise 59 percent by 2018, the report shows.
Chances are, you already know someone living below the ALICE threshold. Our neighbors who live below the ALICE threshold may be child care providers, home health aides, mechanics, retail workers, service providers, store clerks, office assistants, or other members in your community. ALICE can be in any stage of life and ALICE can be an individual or a family. Some households fall below the ALICE threshold due to an unforeseen life event such as a life-altering health diagnosis, job loss, or family crisis such as a death or divorce.
ALICE is often a hidden population. Households below the ALICE threshold usually do not qualify for governmental aid or social service programs, so their struggles go unseen and unknown. The ALICE data highlights the challenges of people living below the ALICE threshold. United Way of Harrisonburg and Rockingham County strives to make our community a place where individuals and families have the tools to move from crisis to survival to sustainability.
Poverty and racism have been inextricably connected since this country’s inception, yet official federal statistics have never fully portrayed the economic
impact of that link. United For ALICE was founded on the need to more accurately measure and track financial hardship nationwide. For more than a decade, the research has been shedding
light on the disparity of economic opportunity that exists in every community, in every state. The data show that while hardship is pervasive, the history of slavery and its ongoing
legacy of systemic and institutional racism stigmatizes Black households uniquely. In every state, the research unequivocally documents the persistent and widening disparities in income and
wealth between Black households and households of other races and ethnicities.
We will be sharing more information about local Black households experiencing financial hardship in the coming months. Learn how Black households are impacted nationally.
United Way recently released a new Consequences of Insufficient Household Income report which provides a deeper level of understanding of the choices that people across the country who are living below the ALICE threshold and Federal Poverty Level make when they do not have enough income or assistance to afford basic necessities, and the consequences of those choices.
This report is meant to inform a variety of policy solutions that can improve the lives of ALICE families in every state. United Ways are joined by policymakers, government employees, nonprofits, academic institutions, and community organizations that are using the ALICE data to better understand the struggles and needs of their employees, customers, and communities, and to discover innovative approaches that improve life for everyone in our communities.
If you have questions or would like a presentation of this information to your group, business, or organization, please contact Laura Toni-Holsinger.
During the week of October 26-30, 2020, we held ALICE Awareness Week and sent a daily email with information about the reality of our neighbors living below the ALICE threshold. Each email provided readers with an opportunity for EDUCATION, REFLECTION, and ACTION.
Click on the videos below to watch the stories of two ALICE families who are struggling to make ends meet.