United Way Releases Latest ALICE Data on Financially Struggling Families

Even before COVID-19 hit, 38% of households in Westchester and Putnam counties were already one emergency away from financial ruin, setting the stage for an unprecedented economic crisis in the Hudson Valley for the next several years, according to the latest local ALICE® Report released by United Way of Westchester and Putnam.

ALICE® stands for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed. ALICE households earn more than the Federal Poverty Level (FPL), but less than they need to afford a basic survival budget. There is no room in their household budgets for emergency expenses.

The 2020 ALICE® report shows that low-income families in Westchester and Putnam systematically lost buying power and financial stability as the cost of essentials outpaced wages. Meanwhile, the number of jobs that provide a living wage did not keep pace with the state’s population. The result was that 141,922 of the households in Putnam and Westchester counties were ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed), a large number even before the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The 2020 ALICE® NY Report provides a reliable baseline of pre-COVID ALICE households to best direct resources,” explained Tom Gabriel, President and CEO of United Way of Westchester and Putnam. “We can use this information to ensure we don’t leave ALICE behind again as we recover from the current economic and health crisis.”

The report calls for stakeholders across all sectors to use its findings to remove obstacles to financial stability, identify gaps in community resources and build data-driven solutions to help ALICE families achieve economic stability, bolstering the state’s economy overall.  United Way of Westchester and Putnam offers key resources for those living paycheck to paycheck, including our 24/7 211 Helpline, our ALICE $ense Financial Empowerment program, and the FamilyWize prescription discount program

The most recent ALICE report shows that over the last few years, New York and the Hudson Valley’s economy rebounded and the state made investments to assist those living in poverty. However, there is still a large number of Hudson Valley residents who lack sufficient income and resources to pay for housing, food, child care, transportation, and health care. The report continues to show that ALICE lives in every part of our region, from our largest cities to our most rural areas.

Using data from the census and a number of economic studies produced in 2018, The 2020 New York ALICE report shows that:

  • The City of Peekskill jumped from 55% in 2016 to 61% in 2018 of its population falling below the ALICE threshold. Peekskill now has the highest percentage of households living as ALICE or in poverty as compared to any community in Westchester or Putnam.
  • To meet the ALICE threshold for survival, a Putnam 4-person household (two adults, two children in care) must earn $109,236 in Putnam and $78,156 in Westchester.
  • To meet the ALICE threshold for survival, a single person must earn $42,636 in Putnam County or $27,321 in Westchester County to meet the household survival budget.
  • 71% of Single-female headed households with children in Westchester or Putnam are considered ALICE or in poverty.
  • While seniors, ages 65+, account for 27% of the households they comprise 38% of those who struggle to make ends meet in Putnam.
  • While Blacks, African Americans, and Hispanics make up 36% of the household population in Westchester, they are 52% of those falling into the ALICE or poverty categories.

The report debuts a new measurement called the ALICE Essentials Index. This Index chronicles how the cost of housing, child care, food, transportation, health care and a smartphone plan rose at nearly twice the rate of inflation, as measured by the Consumer Price Index.

To read a copy of the report and find county-by-county and town-level data on the size and demographics of ALICE as well as the community conditions and costs faced by ALICE households in the Westchester and Putnam counties, visit www.uwwp.org/alice

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