Behind the Data: Voices of ALICE


“I work and take home my earnings daily, so with the sudden stop of work and no paycheck to look forward to, I was hit hard financially by this quarantine.” – Elizabeth, a 43-year-old mother who recently lost her husband.

Chances are, you know someone who lost their job, was furloughed, or experienced a loss of income due to COVID-19. While some households have enough savings to weather this storm, a large percentage of our neighbors in Southeast Louisiana struggled to just make ends meet before the pandemic.

We call these households ALICE – Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed. ALICE works hard in jobs that keep our community running – teachers, grocery store workers, first responders, child care workers, and so many more - but don’t pay enough for them to afford the basics.

On August 6, we're releasing the 2020 United Way ALICE Report for Louisiana which shows why COVID-19 hit Southeast Louisiana so hard.

Voices of ALICE

United Way of Southeast Louisiana has seen this hardship firsthand in our COVID-19 relief work over the past four months. While the ALICE data are invaluable to understand the economic fragility the pandemic has exposed, it’s important to remember that these numbers represent real people. Below are stories from individuals who received support from United Way programs during the pandemic.

ALICE is a mom like Mia*, who was forced to take off work without pay to care for her young child when schools shuttered to slow the spread of the coronavirus.

“When the schools closed down I had to remove myself from the schedule only to take care of my 5-year-old… It’s been hard to deal with the stress and financial stress while trying to stay positive for your child and learning how to teach pre-k without bursting into tears…”

ALICE is a couple like Xavier* and his partner, who were weighing risky choices to stay afloat after losing their jobs due to COVID-19. Should they skip or delay a payment on their home loan, auto loan, or utilities?

“…We even discussed letting our health insurance lapse, even though we're both over 50 and an illness that might be mild for other people could be deadly for one or both of us.”

ALICE is a father like Logan*, whose income barely lets him afford the basics, with nothing left over to save for emergencies.

“I'm a father of four with a pregnant wife working as a full-time server in New Orleans. Being the sole provider for my family, we simply don't make enough money to save for a rainy day. So when the storm finally arrived, we found ourselves in a bad situation.”

While our world changed significantly in March 2020 with the impact of this dual health and economic crisis, ALICE remains central to the story in Southeast Louisiana and across the state.

ALICE needs our help now more than ever. Learn how we’re supporting ALICE households during COVID-19 and make a gift today to join our fight for ALICE.

*Name changed to protect client privacy.