Covid-19 & alice part 1

Who is alice?

If you follow Greater Ottawa County United Way through the community impact journey then the name ALICE most likely registers with you as we speak on this philosophy created by the United Way. Who is ALICE? ALICE stands for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, & Employed. This individual is above the Federal Poverty Level but below the Household Survival Budget.

Which sectors of employment does ALICE occupy? Lower-wage jobs Any lower wage job is likely to find themselves part of the ALICE population, and this group is important to keeping the community running on a daily basis. These individuals face obstacles including no savings for emergencies or for investing in their future through education, home ownership, and retirement. Although wages are rising, necessary expenses are rising faster.

Before we discuss how ALICE individuals have been negatively effected by the COVID-19 pandemic, let us first review key terms related to ALICE households.


covid-19 crisis & alice

The following are the obstacles that various demographics face right now here in Ottawa County…

The number of ALICE households will increase as the mitigation efforts continue for the Coronavirus. Inequalities are exacerbated by the pandemic through the following:

1. Rising unemployment

2. Closed businesses

3. Halted production of goods/services

School closures have a significant impact on families with children and college students

•Disruption to normal life – meals, socialization, learning

•For some children, school is their one safe place

•Having children at home limits parents’ ability to work

•Digital divide – gap in access to internet and technology

•College students – online learning challenges, loss of housing/meals, jobs

•Many school and college staffers are ALICE workers

Seniors: The Most Vulnerable Age Group

Almost half of seniors are below the ALICE Threshold and face unique challenges

•Stock market decline will reduce retirement funds

•Seniors often live in group quarters with higher infection risk

•Delays in non-essential care cause/exacerbate health issues

•Increased isolation

•Restricted visiting to senior housing

•Closure of senior centers

•ALICE caregivers, paid and unpaid

•More responsibility, fewer supports

•Disrupted medication supply chain

ALICE Essential Workers: Low-Wage, High-Risk

Essential Workers are at Risk

•Many ALICE jobs are critical now; workers vulnerable to illness

•Health care workers

•Grocery store clerks

•Limited protective gear

•Many essential workers also have additional family caregiving responsibilities

•No safety net = no choice but to work

•Higher levels of stress

ALICE Non-Essential Workers

Non-essential workers face job insecurity

•Half of jobs are hourly paid – most vulnerable

•Many households don’t have savings to withstand reduced income

•Digital divide – gap in who can work from home

•Unemployment reaching new levels

•Even more ALICE jobs not captured in unemployment statistics

•Self-employed, “side-hustles”

•Infrastructure maintenance being deferred, will cause problems in the future

•Will take months/years to ramp up infrastructure jobs

Alice households were already vulnerable to hardship long before the effects of COVID-19 mitigation began. The effects of COVID-19 mitigation only compound the problems for ALICE households across the Greater Ottawa County. Stay tuned for part 2 of the “Coronavirus & Alice” blog series where we dive deeper into the health forecasts of COVID-19 and what they mean for ALICE individuals and households.

To learn more about ALICE read the full Michigan report here, and the Ottawa report here. To contribute your time and money toward ALICE individuals and households in Ottawa County please visit Greater Ottawa County United Way’s website to learn more.

Live United,

Greater Ottawa County United Way

COVID-19 Response: Stay Updated on Our Efforts

COVID-19 has posed difficulties for many individuals and families in Ottawa County related to housing, food distribution, daycare, basic needs, and in many more ways. Over the past month we have received support and assistance from our generous and giving community through donations, volunteering, and collaboration. This first phase of local impact continues, and we still need giving, advocating, and volunteering from community members at

Since Launching the COVID-19 Response We Have Been Able to:

  • Collaborate with the Grand Haven Community Foundation and the Community Foundation of the Holland Zeeland Area to create where people can find help or give help.
  • Collaboratively fundraise for a joint “Emergency Human Needs Funds” with the above partners that gave more than 50 grants in 24 days to more than 30 local agencies. These grants totaled approximately $500,000.
  • Recruit and mobilize over 350 volunteers, a third of which are credentialed through the Ottawa County Emergency Operations Center.
  • These volunteers and grants went to support emergency responses in the following areas:
    • Housing Supports
    • Food Pantries
    • Basic Needs
    • Tele-Health Access
    • Mental Health
    • Homelessness
    • Senior Food Delivery
    • Senior Well Checks
    • Shelter In Place Kits
    • Prescription Delivery
    • & More
  • Work with member agencies to identify available alternate housing for people experiencing homelessness.
  • Are in contact with all our community nonprofits to ascertain their needs for funds, goods, and volunteers.

Although statistics are showing signs that social distancing is working in Ottawa County and Michigan as a whole, there are many local families who are struggling after being laid off amid the virus outbreak and industry shutdown. A special thank you to those who have given and volunteered to this cause. To continue your valued involvement please find local volunteer opportunity updates here.

In addition, thank you to all the individuals and businesses who have given to the Emergency Human Needs Fund through the Ottawa County COVID-19 response page at Our impact stories are many and our most recent one “Katrina’s story” is made possible by our generous and giving community.

Read more about Katrina’s story here 👉 Katrina’s Story.

The Next Phase In Our Community Response

United Way is dedicated to the well-being of our community and we are closely watching the developments surrounding the spread of Coronavirus. The work that we have been able to do together so far has been vital to our community’s ability to get through this crisis. But we have to consider this work as phase 1. We are entering a time where the long-term financial and social impact of the virus on our partner agencies, corporate partners, and community members, will also need a similar response.

In order to continue to respond to the long-term effects of the COVID-19 crisis, Greater Ottawa County United Way will soon be launching our phase two response called the “Community Recovery Campaign”. Stay tuned to this blog for how together, united, our communities will be able to come out of this crisis stronger than ever.

We encourage everyone to read these recommendations from the Ottawa County Department of Public Health for reducing the risk of COVID-19 infection for yourselves and others. 

Live United,

Greater Ottawa County United Way