Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed.

“ALICE households are our hardworking neighbors and essential workers who bring immense value to our community. To achieve our vision of opportunity for all, we must explore their day-to-day experiences, the gaps in our community and workplaces, and the value of our essential workers. I believe those who work hard to keep the economy running should be able to support their own family. That is why we must come together and look at the root causes to make a real impact for ALICE households – together.”  

– Lesley Scearce, President and CEO of United Way of Greater Chattanooga


Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed,  

households face different levels of financial strain and access to essential resources that make it difficult to afford basic necessities, despite being employed and hard-working. These households face hard choices such as putting food on the table or paying the light bill every single day. 

Prior to the pandemic, 42% of Hamilton County households were only one unexpected setback away from financial instability. ALICE, by the very definition, did not have funds available to them to survive this health and economic crisis. In fact, ALICE’s jobs were most likely to be impacted by the pandemic and issues of childcare, savings, cost of living, healthcare, and education add to the complexity.   

Our Focus

In 2021 we will invest in community-wide learning to ensure the next transformational steps for ALICE households. United, we will address two areas (1) the core issues that most impact the needs of ALICE households and (2) create systems of support for sustainable change that closes the gap between ALICE and stability. 


What are the necessities that ALICE households struggle to afford?

With income above the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) but below a basic survival threshold — defined as the ALICE Threshold — ALICE households earn too much to qualify as “poor” and are still unable to make ends meet. They often work as cashiers, nursing assistants, office clerks, servers, laborers, and security guards. These types of jobs are vital to keeping Tennessee’s economy running smoothly, but they do not provide adequate wages to cover the basics of housing, child care, food, transportation, health care, and technology for these ALICE workers and their families.

How many households in Hamilton County meet ALICE standards?

In Hamilton County, 42% of households are ALICE. Not all communities and neighborhoods are the same. Our studies on ALICE households reveal the inequities in our systems we already know of and have seen illuminated due to COVID-19. For example, in district 4, only 25% of households are above the ALICE threshold. This means 75% of one neighborhood cannot afford basic necessities. 

What is included in the household survival budget?

Actual bare-minimum costs of basic necessities (housing, child care, food, transportation, health care, and a basic smartphone plan) in Tennessee, adjusted for different counties and household types.

ALICE Experience Project

United Way of Greater Chattanooga’s Venture Forward team, along with several community partners, is facilitating a project to better understand the experiences of Hamilton County’s ALICE households so that we can better equip our community to advocate and support them to meet their most critical needs, pain points, and desires.


Who is ALICE?

There’s a good chance you have a friend, acquaintance or neighbor that falls within  the ALICE threshold and does not realize it. They are hardworking individuals who, because they are employed, don’t often ask for help–they may even feel that they’re to blame for their household situationRead more here.


It’s not difficult to generate an impact in the lives of your ALICE neighbors. Here are some ways to engage in a positive way both quickly and effectively. Read more here.

ALICE in Tennessee: A Financial Hardship Study

The ALICE Report for Tennessee presents the latest ALICE data available — a point-in-time snapshot of economic conditions across the state in 2018. Read more here.

ALICE In Your Zip Code

Counties are the core geography for ALICE data: They reveal variations often masked by statewide averages, and the data is reported regularly and reliably. Visit the Tennessee Research Center here.