Updated ALICE Report Reveals 41% Of Black Hawk County Households Struggle To Afford Basics

Updated United Way ALICE Report for Iowa Reveals 41% of Black Hawk County Households Struggle to Afford Basics

United Way ALICE Report Details Size and Scope of Financial Hardship in Iowa

CEDAR RAPIDS, IA – In Iowa, 457,044 households – 37 percent of the state’s total – are unable to afford the state’s cost of living, according to the updated United Way ALICE Report for Iowa to be released on June 26th. In Black Hawk County, 41% of households live below the ALICE Threshold. This is an update to the initial report released in 2016 that found 31% of Iowa households are unable to meet basic needs.

ALICE, which stands for Asset-Limited, Income-Constrained, Employed, places a spotlight on a large population of hardworking residents who work at low-paying jobs, have little or no savings, and are one emergency away from falling into poverty. ALICE is a look at those who are working and earning, but are not able to afford a basic needs budget in the county in which they live. These workers are in “maintainer” jobs that fill needs in our communities including child and senior caregiving, service sector positions, clerical and custodial positions, along with a host of others that we rely on every day. These members of our communities are typically missed in traditional measures of poverty.

The United Way ALICE Report is the most comprehensive depiction of financial needs in the state to date, using data from a variety of sources, including the US Census. The report unveils new measures, based on present-day income levels and expenses that show how many Iowa workers are struggling financially, and why.

“The report tells us that ALICE does indeed live in Iowa and in our communities,” said Sheila Baird, President of Cedar Valley United Way. “This data allows us to see an often unseen population. If we are to address the needs identified in the ALICE Report for Iowa, it will require innovative collaboration between government, business, and community organizations.” 

In Black Hawk County, 16% of the population lives below the Federal Poverty Level. The United Way ALICE Report for Iowa shows that an ADDITIONAL 25% of households in Black Hawk County (over 13,000) are unable to afford life’s basic necessities of housing, transportation, food, health care and child care despite having income above the Federal Poverty Level designation. These are households earning more than the official U.S. poverty level, but less that the very basic cost of living in our community.

Baird said, “The Federal Poverty Level doesn’t give us a complete picture of those in our communities who are struggling to make ends meet, despite holding jobs and earning income. United Ways offer this report as a starting point for the necessary conversations and collaboration that are needed to make this a priority.”

The United Way ALICE Report for Iowa provides high-quality, research-based information to foster a better understanding of our communities. The research was led by Stephanie Hoopes Halpin, Ph.D., United Way ALICE Project National Director. Her staff collaborated with a ten person Iowa Research Advisory Committee which represented a number of Iowa’s colleges, universities, state departments and nonprofits, who advised and contributed to this report.

The presenting sponsor of the 2018 United Way ALICE Report for Iowa is Alliant Energy. “Alliant Energy is proud to partner with United Way on the ALICE Report to identify additional ways to support Iowa families,” said Doug Kopp, President – Alliant Energy’s Iowa energy utility. “We hope this report inspires other businesses in our state to make a difference as well.”

Additional funding for the report was provided by the Iowa Credit Union Foundation.

The Cedar Valley United Way holds annual campaigns and distributes funds to worthy programs, and so much more. Our mission is to be the expert on the complex and ever-changing human condition throughout the Cedar Valley. We are the resource organizer and community problem-solver, with initiatives and collaborative projects to put your contributions at work where they’re needed most. Our unique fund distribution and community planning process calls on volunteers and staff to determine community need, assessing agencies and programs to make sure an effective safety net is established for individuals and families. With careful planning, we make sure the resources – including dollars, volunteers and in-kind services – go where they will do the most good and help make the Cedar Valley an even better place to live. United Way fights for the education, health and financial stability of every person in our community. We lift people up, while tackling issues that weigh our community down. Together, we can change lives. Together, we live United.

To learn more about Cedar Valley United Way and our work in the community, visit www.cedarvalleyunitedway.org.