Invest Hamilton County

Memos From Mike

Putting a Percent in Perspective
May 9, 2024

United Way has a socioeconomic measure of household vulnerability and poverty called ALICE. ALICE stands for Asset-Limited-Income-Constrained-Employed. These are working individuals who in most cases make enough money to pay their month-to-month expenses but are one event away from not being able to do so. A car breaking down, expensive ER visit, sick pet, or even the birth of a child can be enough to suddenly make them unable to cover their daily expenses. Hamilton County has 22% of households that fall into this category.

When comparing percentages to other communities, this percentage represents a smaller need for support than all our neighboring communities and likely every other county in the state… but by raw numbers this represents 27,801 households. Hamilton County’s ALICE threshold households by themselves would be one of the 20 largest counties in the state of Indiana.

When grants, funding and assistance are measured by percentage communities like ours lose out on valuable grants, services and opportunities for action that are very necessary for our continued economic vitality. As local leaders when we are asked about our demographics at the state or federal level it becomes easy to say something like, “well we only have 12.5% of our population that is enrolled in Medicaid,” and try to walk back why that matters, and why we should be considered for support, when many communities have much higher percentages, and we rank as one of the healthiest counties in America…

Instead, we need to highlight the successes of our healthy community, while also highlighting that, “in Hamilton County 46,847 individual in March 2024 were enrolled in Medicaid,” and if pressured to focus on the percent instead of the raw reality use comparative analysis to emphasize that that population alone would be the 31st largest county in all of Indiana!

Our growth and the demographics of our population hide, by percent, the amount of raw need for social services and supports that exists within Hamilton County, and therein limit our ability to compete for state/federal and philanthropic funding. We have many of the same challenges as everyone else, and as we grow that will continue. As a united front we, as a community, need to help use raw numbers to put a percent in perspective, and help our social services structure evolve to meet the raw need we truly do have today…