ALICE Project


  • With the cost of living higher than what most people earn, ALICE families – an acronym for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed – have income above the Federal Poverty Level (FPL), but not high enough to afford a basic household budget that includes housing, child care, food, transportation, and health care.
  • The United Way ALICE Project provides a framework, language, and tools to measure and understand the struggles of the growing number of ALICE households in our communities.
  • This research initiative partners with state local United Ways such as those in Maryland, to deliver research-based reports that can stimulate meaningful discussion, attract new partners, and ultimately inform strategies that effect positive change.

Scroll down For the links to the ALICE reports.


2016 Stats for Washington County 


Population: 150,292 

Number of households: 55,824 

Median household income: $54,250 ($78,945 MD average) 

Unemployment rate: 5% (5.4% MD average) 

ALICE households: 28% (28.1% MD average) 

Households below poverty level: 13% (9.5% MD average) 


2016 Household Types by Income for Washington County 


Single or cohabitating 

Number of households: 24,224 

ALICE households: 29% 

Households below poverty level: 13% 

Families with children 

Number of households: 15,759 

ALICE households: 23% 

Households below poverty level: 14% 

65 and over 

Number of households: 15,841 

ALICE households: 33% 

Households below poverty level: 11% 


over 40 percent of Washington County households are ALICE or living below the poverty level.

  • In Washington County, 22,888 households – 41 percent – struggled to afford basic household necessities like housing, food, health care, child care, and transportation despite working hard.
  • Every county in Maryland has 30 percent or more households that are unable to afford life’s basic necessities. 
  • Despite the combination of ALICE’s wages and some public assistance, ALICE households still face an average 15 percent unfilled income gap to reach financial stability.
  • Because government assistance expenditure is increasingly composed of health care spending, which cannot be transferred to meet other needs, there are larger gaps in the areas of housing (45 percent) and child care (54 percent).


  • The federal poverty rate is commonly regarded as inadequate for measuring the true scope of financial need in the country.
  • United Way believes in a research-based model in order to fully understand and best respond to the needs of our communities. We want to understand the causes of the problems, not just the end results.
  • We sought to provide objective, comprehensive data that can be used for serious policy planning in every arena.


  • There is significantly greater need in Washington County than the typical portrait painted of Maryland. Washington County possesses a median household income of $54,250 and 13% poverty rate, while the state of Maryland has a median household income of $73,971 and 10% poverty rate.
  • We often don’t know who is struggling. That’s why this report is such a critical tool. It helps identify those who are having difficulty making ends meet in every community across Maryland, and better understand the obstacles they face.
  • ALICE is a vital part of our community. We are all interconnected and our success depends on ALICE’s ability to reach his or her potential. ALICE is not going away; he/she is here to stay.
  • There is a systemic problem that will not be solved with a magic bullet – policymakers, academics, business and social service agencies need to work together to address long-term systemic change.

alice breakdown for washington county

We all know ALICE.

The following are links to several reports that will help the community gain a better understanding of ALICE:
ALICE In Washington County, click on ALICE in Maryland and select Washington County from the map.