ALICE is an acronym for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed, and represents the growing number of families who are working, but unable to afford the basic necessities of housing, child care, food, transportation, health care or technology. These workers often struggle to keep their own households from financial ruin, while keeping our local communities running.
ALICE is the cashier at your supermarket, the child care worker, the delivery driver and the EMT providing you life-saving assistance. ALICE is our neighbor.
Households experiencing ALICE are forced to make tough choices, such as deciding between quality child care or paying the rent. This has long-term consequences not only for those currently experiencing ALICE but for all of us.
A household experiencing ALICE is technically defined as having an annual household income above the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) but below the basic cost of living. The basic cost of living is defined by the Household Survival Budget, which calculates the bare-minimum cost of household basics at the county level. The Household Survival Budget considers county-specific costs of housing, child care, food, transportation, health care, and a smartphone plan, plus taxes and a small contingency.
For a family of four (two adults and two school-age children), the ALICE Household Survival Budget for Bexar County requires an annual income of $68,888. Whereas the Federal Poverty Level for a family of four requires an annual income below $26,200. Families within this “gap” are considered ALICE.
The driving force behind United For ALICE is the data and metrics. There were 35 million ALICE households (29%) nationwide in 2018. Combined with households below the FPL, a total of 51 million U.S. households (42%) struggle to make ends meet.
The number of families experiencing financial hardship is even more pervasive in Bexar County.
While 17% of these households are living below the Federal Poverty Level, an additional 35% – twice as many – are experiencing ALICE in Bexar County. Again, these households earn above the Federal Poverty Level, but not enough to afford basic household necessities.
Taken together, every other household in Bexar County was struggling to make ends meet before the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent inflation.
We know the pandemic and hardships it has created have caused more families to experience ALICE and have made life even tougher for those who were already experiencing ALICE.
Indeed, a poll of 695 registered voters conducted in April 2022 by Bexar Facts revealed that Bexar County residents are “feeling the pinch of rising costs.”
Worries about inflation and the cost of living dominated the poll findings: 78% of voters said the rising cost of food was an extremely or very serious problem, and 73% cited the rising price of gas and cost of housing for middle- and working-class families.
WHAT ARE THE DATA TELLING US?
Households experiencing ALICE are increasing and widespread throughout the county.
Individuals experience barriers that limit life outcomes due to race, ethnicity, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, ZIP code of residence, health, ability, veteran status, and/or immigration status.
Zip codes with higher instances of poverty are concentrated in the central and southern regions of the County. Homes experiencing ALICE are more widely distributed throughout the County, even with the highest concentrations falling inside Loop 410 and in the south.
Black, Brown, and multi-race households are more likely to experience ALICE. Hispanic/Latinx and Black-identifying households are 15% and 13% more likely to experience ALICE than White-identifying households, respectively.
Experience ALICE with the Bexar-County specific ALICE Tool
The Making Tough Choices ALICE tool is a supplemental and separate resource from the ALICE Report and is produced and operated independently from the ALICE Report, which is produced by United For ALICE as part of United Way Of San Antonio and Bexar County.
United Ways of Texas offers a simulation exercise, providing an in-depth exploration of those experiencing ALICE in order for you to better understand the struggle.
Select the button below to put yourself in the shoes of a typical ALICE family in Bexar County and experience some of the tough choices that these families make every single day.