The conversation is moving from how we take care of ourselves, our family and friends to how can we help the most vulnerable among us. As an organization dedicated to the well-being of our community, we are closely watching the developments surrounding the spread of Coronavirus in our region, and many people may be wondering what we can do to minimize the impact of the outbreak and the role United Way of Harrisonburg and Rockingham County.
We are continually working with other agencies and partners to continue responding to this crisis. We are providing coordination of care for those experiencing the effects of closures and missed work, particularly those in the ALICE population.
Our purpose is to be there for our neighbors who need us most, and we are stepping up and leading the response effort. We believe that with our existing relationships with local health departments, human service agencies, and corporate partners, we are uniquely suited to respond to this community need.
When a crisis like this hits our community, our hardest hit neighbors are those already struggling to make ends meet – we call them ALICE – Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed. They are working hard, many of them in hourly jobs with no benefits, but their financial stability can be severely impacted by one crisis – like a missed paycheck. Even if only a small number of individuals contract the virus, if schools, public facilities, events, etc. are shutdown, the impacts on our community will be significant.
ALICE® is a project that focuses on community members who are Asset Limited, Income Constrained, and Employed. The United Way ALICE Project is the umbrella of work to both reveal and address the needs of this population. The project includes research, United Way ALICE Reports, the National ALICE Advisory Council, Research Advisory Committees, the ALICE Learning Community, and the local community impact work to address the needs of this population. United Way of Harrisonburg and Rockingham County along with local United Ways throughout Virginia have come together for the first time to produce the Virginia ALICE Report. This project is made possible by the generous financial backing from statewide sponsors Union Bank &Trust and GEICO.
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 2017 ALICE Report for Virginia 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.
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.
According to the 2018 ALICE Report, over 60% of households in Harrisonburg and 39% of households in Rockingham County are living below the ALICE threshold or below the Federal Poverty Level. Living with this type of bare-minimum budget does not allow for any savings and leaves many households vulnerable to sudden, unforeseen circumstances. This includes food, health, and job insecurity. For more information about ALICE in Harrisonburg and Rockingham County, click here to watch WHSV's special report. To learn about ALICE populations nationwide, visit the official United Way ALICE website.
Thank you to all who attended our two community conversations about the ALICE Report and its implications for Harrisonburg and Rockingham County. These conversations brought together perspectives from all sectors in order to form solutions for the most pressing needs in our community. If you want to learn more, checkout the local news coverage WHSV 'ALICE' Community Conversation, WHSV 1on1: Tuesday, March 13, and WMRA Exploring Solutions for ALICE.
If you have questions about our community conversations or you would like us to present this information to your group, business or organization, please email Tashfia Hasan.
Click on the videos below to watch the stories of two ALICE families who are struggling to make ends meet.