Tuesday marks the start of the United Way of Frederick County’s United in Recovery campaign to help families who struggle to afford basic necessities.
Families under the ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) threshold were likely the most affected by the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, whether by being laid off, furloughed or having their work hours reduced, said Ken Oldham, the organization’s president and CEO. The United in Recovery campaign will help provide those families with training and resources necessary to build their savings, buy a car or afford a home.
Those households need funds to be able to survive and be able to plan for the future, Oldham said.
“They need the ability to look ahead at what’s in front of them,” he added.
The ALICE threshold is what the United Way says is needed for people to earn a basic standard of living.
According to the ALICE Report released in October, 37 percent of the 95,903 households in Frederick County qualified as ALICE households in 2018.
The median income in Frederick County rose substantially between 2016 and 2018, jumping from $89,800 to $95,850 since 2008.
In Frederick County, a person falls under the ALICE threshold if they make less than $47,268 per year. For a family of four (two adults, an infant and a preschooler), the standard rose to $109,176, marking the first time an ALICE budget had exceeded $100,000.
Home ownership and owning a vehicle are incredibly important to a household’s ability to survive, Oldham said.
There are still parts of Frederick County, including critical job corridors, that aren’t served by public transportation, he said, making it hard for people without cars to get to jobs.
Many ALICE households might struggle to afford gas and insurance for a vehicle, let alone the cost of buying one, he said.
Meanwhile, home ownership is probably a family’s most important asset, according to United Way officials.
“We know that owning a home is the difference for many of our ALICE households for moving out of the ALICE situation,” Oldham said.
The United in Recovery campaign will also provide households with services such as free tax services and credit counseling.
It also helps nonprofit organizations connect volunteers to fill important needs, coordinate a community fundraising plan and improve communications and management abilities, and it helps local businesses and governments by providing research and analysis to identify vulnerable residents and find gaps in community resources.