ALICE Report: Nearly half of Texas households struggle to make ends meet and 54 percent in El Paso County

El Paso, Texas – New research shows that in Texas, 4,025,176 households — 42 percent — could not afford basic needs such as housing, child care, food, transportation, health care, and technology in 2016, according to the Texas ALICE Report released today by the United Ways of Texas. In El Paso County, 32 percent of households are ALICE and 22 percent live in poverty, as defined by the Federal Poverty guidelines.

ALICE, which stands for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed, places a spotlight on a large population of hardworking residents who work at low-paying jobs, have little or no savings, and are one emergency from falling into poverty.

The Texas ALICE Report tracks struggling Texas households before and after the Great Recession (2007 and 2010) and then during the recovery through 2016. Texas is one of the fastest-growing states in the country; from 2007 to 2016, the number of the state’s households increased by 22 percent. Yet economic activity and financial hardship in the state have been more uneven. 

The Federal Poverty Line (FPL) is an outdated calculation and no longer provides accurate information about the number of people facing hardship across the country. Using the best available information on those who are struggling, the Texas ALICE Report offers an enhanced set of tools for stakeholders to measure the real challenges ALICE households face in trying to make ends meet. The ALICE Project develops these resources in order to move beyond stereotypes and judgments of “the poor,” and instead encourages the use of data to inform programmatic and policy solutions for those households and their communities. 

“Our United Way recognizes that the individual who represent ALICE are hardworking and invaluable members of our community — their success is our community’s success,” said Deborah Zuloaga, CEO & President of United Way of El Paso County. “We are ready to join forces with community stakeholders to ignite a movement that helps us and others understand the national and local issues affecting this demographic and focus on improving the well-being of our families.”

The Texas ALICE Report is the most comprehensive depiction of financial need in the state to date, using data from a variety of sources, including the U.S. Census. The report includes measures, based on present-day income levels and expenses that show how many Texas workers are struggling financially, and why. 

  • The 135-page Texas ALICE Report reveals many points of data, including:
  • As per the report, the 2016 data shows the number of ALICE households in El Paso County at 32 percent while the percentage of poverty is at 22 percent. 
  • ALICE households earn above the poverty level but below the Household Survival Budget, created for ALICE. Childcare, representing a Texas family’s greatest expense, averaged $924 per month for two children in licensed and accredited childcare in El Paso Cournty.
  • The average Household Survival Budget (calculation created for the ALICE report) for a Texas family of four increased to $52,956 — significantly higher than the federally recognized family poverty level of $24,300. (Single Household Survival Budget is $19,428 with the FDL set at $11,880.)
  • Technology expenses (smart phones) are included in the ALICE survival budget.
  • The ALICE Report provides county-by-county, town-level data and analysis of how many households are struggling.

Our local United Way for almost a decade has directed its efforts toward its financial stability impact area by leading and funding programs that improve the economic mobility of families and individuals in El Paso. Between 2017 and 2018, United Way allocated Community Impact Funding toward local programs providing financial education to individuals and support to small-business owners become financially independent, including Project Vida’s microenterprise program. United Way has also led and participated in efforts by the Coalition for Family Economic Progress, currently led by GECU. This coalition has allowed for the hosting of Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites across the community. These sites allow more individuals to keep their hard-earned money by providing free tax preparation services to families or individuals with a household income of $54,000. Through United Way’s coordination and support of the Canutillo High School VITA site, 17 high school students became IRS certified tax preparers after a 14-hour course. During the tax season, these students volunteered most Wednesdays to save their community money by preparing basic returns for free. 

Moving forward United Way of El Paso County will also take an active role in helping the ALICE population by launching a coalition in the summer with local partners to address the needs of these individuals. 


The mission of the United Ways of Texas is to integrate action and resources for the common good. UWT is an association working with local United Ways across the state representing 254 counties.Together we work across our communities to tackle common challenges that affect our local communities but are bigger than any of us — challenges our entire state faces. Along with United Ways across the country, we are part of a global network of more than 1,800 United Ways, servicing communities in 41 countries. For more information, go to  


The United Way of El Paso County is an independent, locally governed and community-supported nonprofit agency that is focused on identifying and making measurable change in three areas: Education, Basic Needs, and Financial Stability through funding, advocacy, creating collaborative partnerships, and developing volunteer resources. The organization which has been in El Paso for more than 90 years, focuses on creating long-term, lasting change to make El Paso a better community for everyone.