"In the economy of the 21st century, only a tiny percentage of the population is immune from the possibility that they could fall into poverty as a result of bad breaks beyond their own control. The American dream is quickly becoming the American illusion." 

Philip Alston, U.N. Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights


The state of Connecticut is known as having one of the greatest discrepancies of income inequality in the United States so it is not surprising that the cost of basic household essentials remains out of reach for more than 39% of all households.  

United Ways use the term ALICE (Asset-Limited, Income-Constrained, Employed) for households that fall above the federal poverty line but whose incomes are not enough to meet the costs of basic needs. Families in this category are employed, often with multiple jobs, but still live paycheck to paycheck and are only one emergency or family crisis away from being in debt. Review the most recent CT United Ways ALICE Report to understand what it really costs to provide for a family in the state of Connecticut. 

Today we look at the different landmines in economic policy and systems that prevent people from being able to earn and save enough to break the cycle of poverty.  


Read about the impact of the reversal of Covid-era funding for service agencies in Poverty Rate Soared in 2022 as Aid Ended and Prices Rose" from The New York Times

The CT Mirror explores NIMBYism ("Not-in-my-back-yard"-ism) in Connecticut suburbs in How wealthy towns keep people with housing vouchers out.

Marketwatch highlights the confluence of the ballooning housing market and student debt: “Student Debt Is Keeping Many Americans from Becoming Homeowners — and COVID Didn't Help.” 


Oregon Public Broadcasting, The Atlantic Fed and Georgia Opportunity Fund present three videos and personal stories explaining the “Benefits Cliff” and how policy traps people in poverty. (3 minutes each)

Growing Up Poor in America” from Frontline follows three children and their families as they navigate the welfare system and school. (52 minutes)

Examples of state and federal efforts to reduce debt: Connecticut Governor Lamont wipes out medical debt and President Biden continues to focus on passing a student debt forgiveness plan. (4 and 6 minutes, respectively)


"The Social Safety Net Explained” by The Uncertain Hour podcast explains the social safety net that currently exists and the safety net that should exist. (17 minutes)

In “The Welfare-to-Work Industrial Complex,” Reveal explains how work requirements for assistance spawned a lucrative industry that profits off of people in need. (50 minutes)   

Reducing Stigma to Increase Participation in Safety Net Programs,” from the Institute of Research on Poverty, examines the different reasons people don’t access government assistance. (20 minutes)


Play the online interactive game “Making Tough Choices” from Connecticut United Ways to experience the difficult decisions families have to make on a daily basis about what they can afford and what they must go without. (10 minutes)

Learn about the Connecticut United Ways' policy agenda and submit an email to your state representatives to support anti-poverty measures: a permanent CT Child Tax Credit, free school meals for all CT students and more robust access to 211. (5 minutes)

Get to know the breadth of financial and social services offered by your local Connecticut Community Action Agency as well as the financial empowerment programs from the Connecticut Association of Human Services, where you can get trained to provide free tax preparation for low-income residents as a VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) volunteer and help families claim their eligible tax credits and save money on tax preparation. 

Want to refer back to an earlier Equity Challenge email in this series? Please visit this link.

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United Way of Connecticut

55 Capital Boulevard, Rocky Hill, CT 06067