Making Ends Meet



It’s no secret that people experiencing poverty have a hard time meeting their basic needs. But so do many families with incomes above the federal poverty level. These are ALICE households: Asset-Limited, Income-Constrained, Employed. Simply put, ALICE households earn too much to be considered poor, but not enough to cover the cost of living in their county.

ALICE represents men and women of all ages and races who go to work each day, but still face tough financial choices. ALICE is the person who frets over bills, skips meals, and always takes the extra shift. ALICE is glad to have a job, proud of their work, and happy to contribute to the community. But ALICE knows that one major financial setback—a car repair, an unexpected medical expense, a job loss—could push them into a desperate situation.

There are serious consequences for both ALICE households and their communities. ALICE households are forced to make difficult choices such as skipping preventative healthcare, accredited childcare, healthy food, or car insurance. These “savings” threaten their health, safety, and future.

ALICE workers are essential to our society. ALICE works in jobs that are integral to our communities, from child care providers and home health aides to food service workers and mechanics. The future success of our communities is directly tied to the financial stability of ALICE households. When ALICE suffers and is forced to make difficult choices, we all reap the consequences.

Greater Ottawa County United Way funds programs that support those who live below the ALICE threshold.


Thousands of families across Ottawa County have to make tough decisions about where to spend their money from week to week. See if you can get through the month with our new app, Making Ends Meet. Visit