The number of households working yet still struggling to make ends meet in the D.C. region is concerning. The latest report by United Way of the National Capital Area, ALICE in the Crosscurrents (ALICE Report), sheds light on the financial hardship of the nearly 500,000 households in the National Capital Area working yet unable to afford the basics in their communities.
ALICE is a United Way acronym for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed; and represents the nearly 500,000 low- and moderate-income households in our region who earn more than the Federal Poverty Level of $26,500 per year but less than the basic cost of living for the county/state in which they live. This translates to an estimated 1.3 million adults and children living in the region who cannot meet the monthly minimum cost of household basics, such as food, housing, household bills, healthcare expenses and more.
Data from the ALICE report for Virginia counties, including Arlington, City of Alexandria, Loudoun, Fairfax, Prince William, Rappahannock, Culpeper and Fauquier, show that the total number of financially insecure households fell by 4% between 2019 and 2021 – contrasted to the 3% increase in the area’s overall population. While ALICE households decreased by 8.5%, 15% of families fell into poverty. This means, in our Virginia counties, 217,000 households are ALICE, translating to an estimated 564,000 individuals. These are not just statistics. These are real people who need help to secure their financial stability. They are our neighbors, friends, and coworkers who are one unexpected expense away from a financial crisis.
Project Community Connect (PCC) is a United Way NCA annual signature event providing essential services to ALICE individuals, families, and those experiencing or at risk of homelessness. Project Community Connect brings much-needed resources through in-person regional pop-up events where community partners and vendors offer free services.
This year, Project Community Connect in Virginia will occur on Saturday, Oct. 28, at Gunston Middle School in Arlington from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The event will offer hundreds of residents free, high-quality services, such as workforce development opportunities, financial empowerment through United Way NCA’s Financial Empowerment Center, rental and utility assistance, legal services, healthcare access, community engagement, support for veterans, and food assistance programs.
At the pop-up event, essential needs kits such as healthy snacks, general and feminine hygiene, and warm clothing for the cold months are distributed to attendees. These kits are also distributed to regional organizations serving those unhoused or experiencing domestic violence.
Project Community Connect is about more than just providing immediate help. These coordinated efforts are essential to United Way NCA’s approach to reducing the number of ALICE households in the region, ensuring thousands of families achieve economic stability and security.
We can all play a role through volunteering, donating, or simply spreading the word. We believe when none are ignored, all will thrive.
To learn more about Project Community Connect and how you can contribute, please visit https://unitedwaynca.org/what-we-do/our-programs/economic-opportunity/project-community-connect/.
Rosie Allen-Herring is the President and CEO of United Way of the National Capital Area.