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ALICE Report

A Startling Truth: in the Quad Cities, 37% of residents struggle to pay for their basic needs.

We challenge you to put yourself in the shoes of a typical family who are scrambling to pay their bills. Take a few minutes to experience some of the tough choices these families have to make every single day to reach the end of each month, through the Making Touch Choices simulator

Who is ALICE?

ALICE is an acronym for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed. With the cost of living higher than most wages pay, ALICE families work hard and earn above the Federal Poverty Level, but not enough to afford a basic household budget of housing, child care, food, transportation, and health care.

  • Men and women, young and old, of all races and ethnicities, living in rural, urban, and suburban areas
  • Individuals who get up each day to go to work, but aren’t sure in they’ll be able to put dinner on the table each night
  • With low wages, and no savings, these hard-working individuals have no ability to meet their current needs, or to adequately prepare for the future
  • Families are particularly vulnerable to financial shocks like job loss, unexpected medical expenses, and natural disasters
  • Families are forced to make impossible choices, such as deciding between quality child care or paying rent

Why are there so many ALICE households?

  • Low-wage jobs dominate the local economy.
  • The basic cost of living outpaces wages.
  • Jobs are not located near housing that is affordable.
  • Public and private assistance helps, but doesn’t achieve financial stability.


  • When ALICE households cannot make ends meet, they are forced to make difficult choices such as forgoing health care, accredited child care, healthy food, or car insurance.
  • This threatens their health, safety, and future – and they reduce productivity and raise insurance premiums and taxes for everyone.

The Federal Poverty Level is not an accurate portrayal of financial need

  • The Federal Poverty Level is the same across the country; it has never been adjusted to account for the cost-of-living differences from one area to another.
  • The methodology for determining the Federal Poverty Level has not been updated to account for the changing cost of basic household needs – housing, child care, food, transportation, and health care.

ALICE - Local & State

  • In the Quad Cities, 13% of Scott County and 14% of Rock Island County residents live below the Federal Poverty Level.
  • The ALICE Report shows that an additional 25% of Scott County and 22% of Rock Island County residents are unable to afford life’s basic necessities of housing, transportation, food, health care, and child care, despite having income above the Federal Poverty Level designation.

How Many Iowa Households are Below the ALICE Threshold?

  • Of Iowa's 1.2 million households, 37% (457,000) could not afford basic needs - food housing, transportation, technology, health, and childcare.
  • This is an Increase of 27% since 2010.
  • 12% of Iowa households (149,000 are below the Federal Poverty Level.
  • An additional 25% (307,000) are above the Federal Poverty Level, but unable to meet a bsic needs budget.

Who is ALICE in Iowa?

  • 42% of senior households are below the ALICE Threshold
  • 70% of households headed by a person under 25 years old are below the ALICE Threshold
  • 31% of families with children are below the ALICE Threshold, one-third of these have 2 parents

Download the 2018 ALICE information for Scott County. (Rock Island County not available at this time.)

Download the 2016 ALICE flyer to see the Rock Island County and Scott County statistics.