Working Families Struggle to Stay Afloat in Milford

By Barry Berman, President/CEO, Milford United Way

The United Way of Connecticut recently presented the 2023 ALICE Report to the State Legislature. ALICE is an acronym for people who are Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed.

I know it’s a mouthful, but what it really means is that there are a lot of people — most of them employed — living right here in Milford who are struggling to get by.

Nearly one in three of our friends and neighbors — maybe even you — are below the necessary threshold of income that defines ALICE.

According to this latest report, a family of four would need an income of around $110,000 to make ends meet in Milford — what the United Way calls a Household Survival Budget. This income represents what it costs for the necessities of housing, utilities, food, childcare, transportation, healthcare, etc. Those falling below that income are at risk.

They may struggle to feed their families, pay their rent and fuel bills, skimp on meds and doctor visits, end up in the hospital, and then how will they pay their deductibles?

They are always one unexpected expense away from financial disaster. Many just run out of cash and reach out to the United Way for help.

But this income number doesn’t tell the whole story. It reflects 2021 data, and a lot has changed in two years. Considering inflation and the loss of child tax credits, the income would need to be $130,000 today.

A Tale of Two Cities

Milford is a beautiful place. Gorgeous beaches, great restaurants, shops and neighborhoods. Looking around, sometimes it’s hard to believe so many working poor, even those who are homeless, live here.

But they do. In the year-plus I’ve been at this job, I’ve heard the stories of those desperate for a bed for the night. I’ve heard from a woman who had to place her child with her former abusive husband’s parents because she was living in her car waiting for help from the state. We’ve met a man who was laid off temporarily because his clothes smelled, and he couldn’t afford to wash them at the laundromat. We’ve talked to a couple living in a low-cost motel because they can’t scrape together enough for a rental deposit — and when they came down with COVID and lost their hourly jobs, they were going to be thrown out in the snow if they didn’t come up with the money.

These are the faces of ALICE. Most of them have jobs. Who would have thought?

An Unabashed Call for Help

At the Milford United Way, we’re here — and I hope you are too — to help. We’re focused on the critical needs of housing, food and mental health. We’re not only vetting and funding great organizations in Milford but also building programs and funds to help the community.

Milford Mayor Rich Smith recently commented to me, in words more eloquent than mine, that he believes that people are attracted to Milford because people here care about each other and want to help.

So, if you are inclined, we invite you to become part of our caring community and donate to the Milford United Way by clicking on the red DONATE link.

United, we can make a difference, right here at home.