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Introducing ALICE

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Have you met your neighbor, ALICE? I’m sure you have, but perhaps you don’t know her story. She is the reason we are raising money while we’re on our Baseball Fan Grand Slam adventure.

Employed and Struggling

ALICE stands for Asset-Limited, Income-Constrained, and Employed. This group includes the 64% of the US population who live paycheck to paycheck. About 11% of people who are employed do not have friends or family members who can help them, often because they are in the same position. They also lack access credit cards or bank loans, or other means of paying an unexpected expense. When an unexpected expense pops up, ALICE must make a very difficult decision. Does she pay her rent, feed her family, or pay the unexpected bill?

And unexpected bills are common. About every twenty months, the average household incurs an unforeseen expense. It might be a spouse who is laid off, or an illness with no paid time off, or a stolen catalytic converter. Whatever it is, the cost is likely to be about $2,000.

Sliding into Homelessness

For people in ALICE’s position who don’t have friends or family who can help, there are few options to regain stability. They likely have too much income to qualify for government services, but not enough to avoid a downward spiral into homelessness.

Wellspring Family Services recognizes that many households face eviction for less than $2,000. The cost of addressing their needs early is low. However, once that household loses their housing, the costs rise dramatically. That’s why Wellspring’s new Employee Stability Program focuses on preventing homelessness for people who just need that small amount of help to get back on their feet: employees like ALICE who are facing a financial crisis that could cost them their housing.

Stereotypes and Stigma

At the Astros game, Brad chatted with the person next to him about our Home Runs for Housing Campaign. The Astros fan politely informed Brad that Texas doesn’t have that problem, but he knows that California does. He continued, describing the stereotypical person experiencing homelessness: an adult with a mental health disorder, such as an addiction, who is unemployed and living in a tent on the street.

Brad tried to explain that this is just one form of homelessness, and that this group is only about 16% of of people who are unhoused. He told the Astros fan that the people we’re serving in this particular program are employed and are more likely to live in cities where rent is high. Most of them are couch-surfing, staying with friends until they get back on their feet or lose their job and are eligible for government services.

The Astros fan said he knew about couch surfing. He said he had a friend of his who was unemployed and battling a drug addiction had camped on his sofa for several weeks. Brad finally gave up.

Given this reaction, you can see why ALICE isn’t eager to share her story. She is worried about the stigma of homelessness. She is embarrassed and doesn’t want people to know what’s going on. ALICE also wants to keep her job.

ALICE will often ask for advances on paychecks or loans against retirement account balances. She will also ask for overtime to help address her situation. However, she often won’t tell her employer about her predicament. She is afraid that the stigma of housing instability will cause her to lose her job.

Help Wellspring Deliver a New Solution

That’s why Wellspring Family Services is launching a new and innovative program. Wellspring, a nonprofit human service organization with a national employee assistance program is launching the Employee Stability Program. This new service provides employees with a confidential way to access both financial advisory services and small amounts of cash to cover unexpected expenses.

But Wellspring needs your help. Launching a new service line is expensive, and Wellspring, like ALICE, lacks access to deep pools of capital. That’s where your help is needed.

By pledging to Home Runs for Housing, you will help get the program off the ground. You can pledge for every home run we see or by making a donation of a fixed amount. A pledge of $20 per home run would cover the cost of an employee’s unexpected expense. A pledge of $10 per home run will help provide training to staff as financial counselors. Of course, any amount will help!

A $1 donation is likely to result in a donation of about $54. You can set a cap if you are uncomfortable with the risk of more home runs. You can also simply donate a fixed amount.

Please consider helping your neighbor, ALICE, remain employed and stably housed today by making a donation to Home Runs for Housing!