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  • Eileen Zilch

Nonprofits Are SUPERHEROES!

Between October and November 2022 (in ONE MONTH), the average American monthly rent payment increased by $142.


In 1940, the median home price was $30,600 in year-2000 dollars, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau. Today, the average home price in the United States is $368,000.


As more and more Americans struggle to keep up with rising costs, an increasing number of families find themselves teetering on the edge of financial sustainability.


As prices continue to increase, low-income individuals and families are hit the hardest. These low income families are either below the federal poverty line or are considered ALICE.


What is ALICE?


ALICE is an acronym that stands for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed.


Individuals in the United States who qualify as ALICE work hard and earn above the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) - ($14,580 for a single person household, as of 2023), but not enough to cover the essentials, such as food, housing, healthcare, transportation, and child care.

Because ALICE individuals earn more than the FPL, they don’t qualify for government subsidized programs (food stamps, rental assistance, the Headstart program for kids, etc). ALICE individuals are often one financial emergency away from being homeless.


Below is an example of what a ‘survival budget’ for an ALICE family of four would look like in Livingston County, Michigan, in 2023. As you read this, ask yourself if YOU could live in Livingston County on this budget.




What does ALICE look like?


In 2019, the state of Michigan contained over one million ALICE households. Over 25% of the state’s population were considered ALICE pre-COVID.


Combined with the 13% of people who fell below the Federal Poverty Level, that’s 38% of Michiganders who were struggling to pay for basic necessities in 2019.


ALICE individuals commonly work front-line jobs and are paid hourly, with many positions qualifying as ‘essential’: teachers, grocery store clerks, and home care workers.



If you were standing in the grocery checkout line with 3 other people in Livingston County, one of those people would likely be struggling to pay for basic expenses.


There are many fewer programs and types of assistance available for ALICE individuals and families who are living paycheck to paycheck. The system could be viewed as dis-incentiving people from working to improve their situation. A family could work overtime to bring in more income, only to find themselves no longer eligible for most government assistance programs.


Why are non-profits the Superheroes to ALICE individuals and those living in poverty?


Nonprofits fill a crucial gap by providing low-income individuals with other help and forms of assistance, especially when they don’t qualify for government programs.


From critical home repairs to help with monthly utility bills to food pantries and housing assistance, nonprofits are able to hone in on specific community issues and provide targeted relief.


While Community Catalysts is working in Livingston County to develop various forms of affordable and attainable housing for our lower-income residents, other local nonprofits are serving our neighbors by meeting many of their other needs. A HUGE thank you to many of our partner non-profit agencies in the community, including United Way, Salvation Army, RAIL, Livingston Family Center, Habitat for Humanity, La Casa, St. Vincent de Paul and others for the amazing work that you do! You are the Superheroes!


How can I help ALICE?


Community Catalysts was founded specifically to increase the stock of affordable and attainable housing for our lower-income neighbors, while partnering with local service agencies who help people stabilize and then thrive. Our role in the community is to provide more beautiful, safe and affordable places for people like seniors, veterans, young people just starting out, or ALICE who are recovering from a life emergency, to call home.


The best ways to partner with us are:


1. Volunteer NOW! Whether you are a skilled laborer, a career professional, or a person with a heart to lend a hand, we need YOU!


In late March and early April, we will need several teams of volunteers to assemble furniture and then ultimately move furniture into Bethel Suites. No special skills are required. Please click below to let us know that you would like to be placed on a furniture-building or furniture-moving team, or that you would like to bring a team to help us get Bethel Suites ready for our Grand Opening!



CLICK HERE to help get Bethel Suites ready to open!


2. Donate. To make a financial contribution to the work of Community Catalysts, CLICK HERE.


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