ALICE report

The United Way’s Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed (ALICE) report shows that a growing number of employed Frederick County residents cannot afford their basic needs.

More and more Frederick County residents are unable to pay for their basic needs, according to a statewide report from the United Way released Wednesday.

More than 35,000 households in the county cannot afford the bare minimum for housing, food, transportation, child care and health care. The data comes from the United Way’s Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed (ALICE) report, which uses data from 2016. In the latest report, 39 percent of the 89,800 households fit the ALICE description, a 5 percentage-point increase from 2014.

Ken Oldham, president of United Way of Frederick County, said wages in the county are not keeping pace with the rising costs of living — specifically housing, child care and transportation.

“One of the primary drivers is the increase in costs overall, but specifically in housing,” Oldham said.

In Frederick County, a single adult must make $35,316 a year, or $17.66 an hour, to cover basic costs and be above the ALICE line. For a single adult with a school-aged child, the number increases to $51,852 a year, or $25.93 an hour. A dual-income home with two children needs to make $84,036 a year, or $42.02 an hour.

The percentage of people living below the ALICE threshold includes those who are also below the poverty line — $12,140 a year for individuals and $25,100 for a family of four. 

The average cost of buying a home in the county increased by 4 percent between 2016 and 2017. According to the United Way report, a household with two adults and two children has to pay $1,848 more a year for housing in 2018 than in 2016 — and that is to afford the most basic housing.

The latest report provides insight to the kinds of families who are struggling. Nearly three-quarters of single-mother homes in the county — or 3,293 total households — do not make enough money to cover basic costs. For single-father homes, 55 percent — or 1,636 households — are below the ALICE line. Single-parent households are more at risk to be an ALICE household because they must survive on one income, Oldham said.

“Most married households with children are dual-income households,” he said. “With a dual-income household, you can make less [individually] and still be above the survival threshold.”

A gap in the percentage of each racial group under ALICE exists and, even more troubling, that gap is growing, Oldham said. In 2016, 44 percent of black households and 31 percent of white households were below the ALICE line, a difference of 13 percent. In 2018, the gap has grown to 23 percent. The same divide is growing between Hispanic and white households. In 2016, there were 14 percent more Hispanic households under ALICE than white households. In 2018, that difference is 22 percent.

Across the county, Emmitsburg, Sabillasville, Libertytown and Thurmont had the highest percentages of ALICE households. Urbana and Adamstown has the lowest.

Frederick County is ranked 13th among Maryland’s 24 counties (including Baltimore city) by the lowest percentage of ALICE households.

The release of the ALICE report coincides with the start of the Unity Campaign, a 12-day annual fundraising effort for 31 local nonprofit organizations. United Way is coordinating the effort, which last year raised $447,074. This year’s goal is $475,000.

“The ALICE report has been the impetus in the last two years for the Unity Campaign,” Oldham said. “We’re really justifying the needs for nonprofits in our community through the ALICE report.”

Follow Wyatt Massey on Twitter: @News4Mass.

(55) comments


Odd that Flea and my discussion of minimum wage was deleted. I wonder how that was offensive.


Not sure either....

United Way of Frederick County

Good Morning!

After reading the comments posted, we are seeing that there is some misconception about ALICE households and the people affected by Frederick's rising cost of living. The ALICE in Promiseland blog was created to give a face to the statistics and prove that anyone can be ALICE.

If you identify as ALICE, I am reaching out to you today to see if you are interested in putting forth your personal story for United Way through a brief interview with us. We would really love to feature your story to bring awareness to ALICE households in Frederick County. If you are interested, please let us know what times/days work best for your schedule. We invite you to interview at our offices at the Bernard W. Brown Community Center at 629 N. Market Street, but recognize that sometimes it is more convenient for us to interview over the phone. If this is necessary, please let us know! If you’re interested please contact me at

If you have any questions regarding the ALICE in Promiseland blog, please contact Kayla Nazaire , the Journalism Intern at the United Way of Frederick County at


Or be like notadisabledfrederickveteran and sit on your rear all day and making ignorant comments on FNP.


I think DFV GOTCHA! secpol. [angry][angry] [smile][lol]


Stop building more new homes and developments, then people will stop coming here. Developments cost the tax payers more than they are worth? Each development should be made to have 10-15% affordable housing before they start to build...


So goes the fate of the working poor here in Frederick, and the expected "piling on" by some of their neighbors, who "know" that their only problems are failing to "work hard for what one desires, rather than looking for others to bear the costs" . Those so comfortable in their easy-chair prosthelytizing should be reminded that in Maryland, the minimum hourly wage is $10.10 per hour; and $3.63 an hour for tipped employees, with a provision that if tips don't reach the target of $10.10 an hour, the employer should make up the difference. The people in service industries who serve you your Chick Fil A and Burger King and Cracker Barrel lunches and dinners; who push the cleaning carts in hotels and corporations and big box stores; who check out your bags of groceries at Wegman's and Giant Eagle and Target, are all people who are on their feet all day long serving YOU. Seriously, these are the folks who deserve criticism for not understanding how to work hard? The article emphasizes 3 main monthly expenditures for all, including the working poor: housing, childcare and transportation, with no mention of healthcare or food costs. Consider, then, the potential disaster that looms for these non-salaried workers when illness strikes and the cost of even minor medical care is compounded by an inability to get to work for a day....or a week...or more? The working poor deserve credit, and compassion, and understanding, as well as any help a caring community may give. They are one or two paychecks away from homelessness. I am constantly grateful for, and in admiration of, the many charitable organizations in Frederick County, and the generosity, compassion, and understanding of those who support them, through donations or volunteerism. These are the good people of Frederick, who understand the daily struggle of the working poor, and the homeless, in Frederick, and work tirelessly in service to make a difference.


Thank you, Mrs. M, for your observations. While the article does not mention the costs of food and healthcare, these critical expenses are incorporated into the ALICE survival budget. Since the underlying ALICE premise is that these are employed families, their fair share of income and sales taxes are also included. The ALICE budget detail can be found at -- Ken Oldham, United Way of Frederick County


[thumbup] MRS M!

Comment deleted.

The problem can be fixed without taxing the rich to feed the poor. We just need to raise the minimum wage. The entire point of a "minimum wage" is ensure that no matter what job you do, you will earn a livable wage. Minimum wage was livable in the past, but since it isn't indexed to inflation, it is no longer a livable wage. Raising the minimum wage is the single most effective way to bring prosperity to an entire population and rebuild the middle class.

Comment deleted.
Comment deleted.

If you are going to quote me - please be accurate in quoting me! I did not say the article was all lies, but was missing key data/metrics on how United Way came up with their conclusions/assessment. I have now been provided that information from United Way in a professional manner. Also unless you know how the data was collected and assessed/analyzed; you cannot make assumptions. I do believe we have many folks out there that believe everything in their budget are essentials and they need to do a real assessment on how they spend their $$$ and cut out non-essentials.

Comment deleted.
Comment deleted.

I don’t like what the article does not cover. Do you really not see that this piece is nothing more than an assist to an outfit which leeches from donations in order to sustain itself?


Democrats believe in a woman’s right to control her own anatomy, republicans believe in grabbing to control a women’s anatomy. MAGA




"You can't make the poorer rich , by making the rich poorer". KAGA


Why should weathly Americans sacrifice their economic gains under Trump to assist struggling white families?

Comment deleted.

Thank you, timothygaydos, for your constructive criticism. I do not respond to reader opinions, but I will respond to factual inaccuracies. The ALICE Report contains a full accounting of the ALICE survival budget, demographics, methodology, and details about technological and modest misc. expenses. Locate this information at County pages, methodology and source data can be found under "Downloads." Thank you again for your interest. - Ken Oldham, United Way of Frederick County

Comment deleted.
Comment deleted.

Ooooh, a DFV - jerseygrl Smackdown!!

I'm making popcorn.


The comments here are exactly what I expected, laughable.
Because of the housing costs in Frederick, Md., we had to move out of state to get a better rent rate. Both of us work and have kids (now grown). This has been an ongoing problem for years, housing costs in our own hometown where we were all born and raised, got so atrocious we had to leave.
I am so glad to see these commentators know everything about how to live, by their golden rule and think it's only about people looking for handouts, wow!


Please contact me. My email is at the top of the article.


I grew up in a bedroom community of NYC in New Jersey. Fantastic place to grow up- close to everything- NYC, the shore, Catskills, etc., I know exactly one person from my HS graduating class who still lives in the area. Know why? The cost of living got so high it's unaffordable. He's a lawyer for Bloomberg and makes millions- more power to him but for most of us- like you and your husband- we have to move on.

BTW, I can't stand it in Bergan County today. Way too crowded. Kind of like Moco. After 20 years close to Canada give me a slower pace of life any day- like here.[wink]


too bad the article makes no mention of the key components ; parental raising, good education and working hard for what one desires rather than looking for others to bear the costs


Yes. Also a factor is that we’ve imported an entire underclass with high rates of out-of-wedlock births. In 2016 stats, 42% of Hispanic births were to unwed mothers.
(66% of black births and 24% of white births were out of wedlock.) This starts a cycle of poverty which is hard to break.

In addition, housing costs have increased as immigration into MoCo precipitated more migration to Frederick and beyond, increasing traffic and vile Ryan developments marring the landscape.

Unbridled immigration has done more than any other single factor to depress native born working class wages, strain municipal budgets with rising costs of entitlements, education and law enforcement.

All of this works out nicely for the coffers of United Way who get free press in this shallow piece.


“Across the county, Emmitsburg, Sabillasville, Libertytown and Thurmont had the highest percentages of ALICE households.” Do large numbers of Blacks or Hispanics or immigrants live in those area? I think not.

Do all the single white out of wedlock income families move to those places? I think not.


[thumbup] aw!

phydeaux994 of births in Thurmont that year were to women 15 to 19. 100% of these births were to unwed mothers. Thurmont is 1% Black, 2% Hispanic.


Exactly, phydeaux, right outta "Hillbilly Elegy". You really must stop posting facts, which are highly disturbing to the old white racists of the world.

Comment deleted.



The supporters of the corporate fascist Republican party continue to miss the actual reality. Unemployment numbers and other economic indicators are very misleading if you don't look at the Big Picture instead of your own image. Wages have been flat for decades! We are now living in the American feudal system where the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Welfare for the rich goes on and on! Ronald Reagan precipitated this BS and his is Republican stepchild George W exacerbated it. The momentum of the economy right now is basically the Obama economy unfortunately the Republicans as usual use statistics without nuance.


Funny, the Democratic party more aligns with actual fascism.


Yes, very true. Neo-cons, as well, and many of them actually have direct Bolshy heritage.


Thanks to the Educational Industrial
Complex for turning out minds which see things in such simple, impoverished ways. A little dualism’ll do ya. Good Lord, it’s Plato’s Cave ‘round here.


Good one crow![beam]


I realize that angst sells news but in what sense is this "breaking news?" Unemployment, growth and the stock market are at all time lows/highs. More and more people are leaving their jobs for greener pastures and consumer confidence is way high! The economic picture hasn't been this positive since the Clinton years!

Somebody at the FNP has got to attend journalism school!


Des, you kinda answered your own question. It is big news because we have all this prosperity and poverty at the same time, which is the point Vic made.


Well, one could move and commute to this area for high salaries right 3? I see a lot of West Virginia and Pa. plates on my drive in every day. Can't move here from Pittsburgh or Rochester for the high wages and then complain about the cost of living. Well, i guess you can, as this forum continually shows people can complain about EVERYTHING. That doesn't make it rational though.

Alternatively one could live elsewhere where the cost of living is lower. I found however that when i sent a kid to college or bought a new car there was no "living in Western NY" discount.




Overpriced housing. People need to stop living beyond their means. It's that simple.


Thanks Dad.


you're welcome boy.


It's overpriced housing for sure. It is that simple. That's what drove my family of "Fredericktonians" completely out of state, housing costs. We weren't looking for a handout either, we both work full-time jobs and still had to leave, with our children (the two left living with us) have 4 children all together. Prices kept rising but not our pay. Living beyond our means just wasn't the problem. The problem is we couldn't move to another address in Frederick and be able to afford the atrocious rents.


simple thoughts from a simple boy. dig a little deeper, half pint.


Maybe some money will "trickle down" for these people. That's the big idea, right? Work really hard and that will make rich people want to pay you more money. [huh]


Yes, that's right flea. Or get a government job.[wink]


Get a government job and become a cop and enjoy the best job security in America. MAGA


Flea, des is government employee and YUGE hypocrite.LOL


DisabledVet is spot on. The funny thing is, you can literally spell out their living hypocrisy and they'll completely overlook it. It's like having a conversation with a mute from Mongolia most times.


Exactly, Nobis. Let's not insult Mongolians. Unfortunately these hypocrites are from our country.


Either that or i am very wise Vic. Everyone has an opinion and you know what they say about those.

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Engage ideas. This forum is for the exchange of ideas, insights and experiences, not personal attacks. Ad hominen criticisms are not allowed. Focus on ideas instead.
Don't threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
No trolls. Off-topic comments and comments that bait others are not allowed.
No spamming. This is not the place to sell miracle cures.
Say it once. No repeat or repetitive posts, please.
Help us. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.