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Although situated within two counties in one of the most affluent states in our country, United Way of Western Connecticut serves thousands of families in need. Connecticut’s high cost of living makes it difficult for working families, especially ALICE, to make ends meet.

Many residents and working families must budget more carefully for food and housing at the expense of other important necessities like health care, child care and transportation. Despite working full-time (or multiple jobs), many households find that even if basic needs are met, they have nothing left for savings toward buying a house, retirement accounts, or college funds.

This is a reality for too many families in Western Connecticut, especially among ALICE households. Just one unanticipated expense can lead to crisis: a car repair, an uninsured illness, a week without a paycheck. United Way is committed to building prosperous communities by supporting at-risk families on their journey from struggling to financially stable and self-sufficient.

The Challenges

  • While Connecticut’s 2015 minimum wage is $9.15 (set to rise to $10.10 in 2017), the hourly wage needed to rent a 2-bedroom apartment in Danbury is $29.08, or the equivalent of working more than 3 full-time jobs at minimum wage. In Stamford, a 2-bedroom apartment required an hourly wage of $34.02, or the equivalent of 3.7 full-time jobs.
  • Unemployment in New Milford is estimated at 11%, 7% in Danbury, and 10% in Stamford.
  • Without sufficient income, many ALICE households do not qualify for traditional financial products. The alternatives carry higher fees, interest rates, and more associated risks.
  • Stamford residents are burdened by housing costs: 55% of the city’s renters and 44% of homeowners spend more than one third of their income on housing, which stresses household budgets at all levels.
  • When ALICE households are homeowners, they are more likely to have a sub-prime mortgage, which account for the majority of foreclosures. Foreclosure leads to housing instability and a lower credit rating, which creates barriers to future home purchases and rentals.
  • In Fairfield County alone, about 15.4% of children (approximately 34,890) live in a food insecure household, with inconsistent access to adequate food to maintain proper nutrition and health needs.

Our Initiatives and Collaboratives

In addition, UWWC:

  • Supports the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Coalitions and Centers in Western Connecticut, which provide free tax filing for low-to–moderate income individuals and families.
  • Chairs the Emergency Food & Shelter Program Local Board (EFSP) in Northern Fairfield and the city of Stamford, which distributes awarded dollars in federal funds from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) of the national Department of Homeland Security to supplement emergency food and shelter programs in the community.
  • Sponsors and planning committee member of Greater Danbury’s Project Homeless Connect, a one day, one stop event to connect at-risk residents to more than sixty agency services, ranging from health and wellness, homeless prevention, supportive housing, foreclosure prevention, financial services, and energy assistance.