Some Frederick County Families Struggle To Meet Basic Needs

2018 ALICE report released by United Way.


Frederick, Md (KM) It’s increasingly difficult for some families in Frederick County to pay for basic expenses such as housing, transportation, child care, food and health care. The latest ALICE report from the United Way of Frederick County says 39% of local families are having trouble making ends meet..

ALICE stands for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed. The report says these families are not considered poor by the Federal Poverty Level, but are having trouble making ends meet.

Ken Oldham, the President and CEO of the local United Way, says the conclusions for this year’s report are based on 2016 statistics. “What we find using the 2016 data is that those household who struggle to make ends meet, those ALICE households, are about five percentage points higher than what they were in 2014,” he says.

According to the ALICE report, a single adult would need to make $35,316 annually  to pay for expenses in Frederick County. A couple with no children would need $45,996 each year to meet all expenses. For a family with one school aged child, it’s $51,852, and for households with two adults, one infant and one toddler, the annual income would need to be $84,036.

Most of the ALICE households are concentrated in the city of Frederick and in rural communities outside of the Frederick, including Thurmont, Emmitsburg and Brunswick. Adamstown and Urbana seem to have the least number of ALICE households, according to the report. It also says citizens 25 and under are most likely to live in poverty, and, the report goes on to say, the youngest  and  those 65 and older are likely to be ALICE households.

Oldham says the biggest expense is housing. :”The result of this is from Frederick County being a very popular place to be, a lovely place to live,” he says. “With that desire to be here, comes demand and with demand, higher prices. So we’re seeing steep increases in the cost of housing, and pushing some  people out.”

But Oldham says there is hope with new policies requiring developers to set  aside part of their projects for affordable housing . “A lot of efforts have been made to address policy and make housing a little bit more affordable for households in our community,” he says.

While acknowledging that the economy is doing well, Oldham says not everyone is benefiting. “The problem is that’s largely being experience by the wealthy and not by the poor,” he says. “Wages of ALICE households have not increased the same size as the economy. This disparity between the working poor and wealthy, it’s not mutually exclusive. We’re having both at the same time.”

He says this problem needs to be addressed by everyone. “This is not going to be an issue that’s going to solve by the public dollar alone. It’s not going be solved by the non-profit sector alone. It’s not going to be solved by businesses alone. It’s going to be all three sectors pulling at once in the same direction,” says Oldham.

There has been some criticism of the report, with some people doubting the statistics, or claiming they too are  having trouble making ends meet, and they’re not considered ALICE households. Oldham asks residents “not to overly apply their own income levels and assume that to ALICE,” he says. “In other words, if you’re employed with an employer that provides a large chunk of health care cost savings to you, you may not be an ALICE household or understand what it is to be a household that doesn’t have that.”

For those who want to help their neighbors in need, they can donate to the Unity Campaign between now and September 23rd. They can go on line to and found more information.


By Kevin McManus