Do you know ALICE?

It’s no secret that people in poverty have a hard time meeting their basic needs. But so do many families with incomes above the federal poverty level. These are ALICE households: Asset-Limited, Income-Constrained, Employed. Simply put, ALICE households earn too much to be considered poor but not enough to cover the cost of living in their county.

ALICE represents the men and women of all ages and races who get up each day to go to work but who face tough financial choices. ALICE is the person who frets over bills, skips meals, and always takes the extra shift. ALICE is glad to have a job, proud of their work, and happy to contribute to the community. But ALICE knows that one major financial setback – a car repair, an unexpected medical expense, a job loss – could push them into a desperate situation.

28% of Kent County is ALICE.

Combined with people living below the federal poverty level, 37% of households in Kent County are struggling to meet their basic needs.




Consequences of living below the ALICE Threshold

There are serious consequences for both ALICE households and their communities. ALICE households are forced to make difficult choices such as skipping preventative health care, accredited childcare, healthy food, or car insurance. These “savings” threaten their health, safety, and future.

ALICE workers are essential to our society. ALICE works in jobs that are integral to our communities, from child care providers and home health aides to food service workers and mechanics. The future success of our communities is directly tied to the financial stability of ALICE households. When ALICE suffers and is forced to make difficult choices, we all reap the consequences.

We are Champions for ALICE

Heart of West Michigan United Way funds programs that support those who live below the ALICE threshold.

  • Meeting Immediate Needs. We recognize the need to intervene in crisis. We fund programs that provide immediate, short-term relief for those who are hungry, without a place to sleep, or who have experienced domestic violence.

  • Investing in Long-Term Solutions. At the same time, we understand that in order to solve ALICE’s problems, we have to address the root causes. We fund job training, financial counseling, affordable housing, youth education, and many other programs that help individuals and families build toward a more secure future.

  • We Need Your Help. Our work depends on the support of volunteers and donors here in Kent County. Whether you can give time and talent or you have the ability to make a financial contribution, you have a role to play in helping ALICE.