ALICE is the growing number of hardworking individuals and families who earn above the Federal Poverty level but not enough to afford the basic necessities of housing, childcare, food, transportation and health care. ALICE lives paycheck to paycheck and is often one emergency - a car repair or ER visit - away from slipping into financial crisis.
There are 54,000 ALICE households in Acadiana. Ashley Duran is a 20-something single mom, coffee barista living in Lafayette. She is one of the 54,000.
Becoming a single mom was my decision. Now, my son is 5-years-old, and I’ve had to make some tough decisions to do my best to make ends meet. When he was younger, it was easier because I had more help. When my mom moved back to Texas and my son started school, I decided to give up the career I had been building as a restaurant manager and go back to being a barista. It was the only work schedule I could find that would allow me to work from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. while he was in school. Some people might say you would make enough to hire a babysitter, but babysitters often make more than I do. I make a little less than $8 an hour.
Now, I watch out for every dollar I spend and when I spend it. If my car breaks down, I’m not sure what we’ll do. I’m not asking for pity or even help, I’m just trying to do my best to make it work.
When it comes to paying things, I’m on time with my rent and car insurance, but everything else is usually a month behind. I look forward to income tax season. It’s the only time I can catch my breath. And then I do it again for another year. We have a strict budget at the grocery store. We go to the library a lot for books and movies. I try not to stress my son out about all of this.
I actually applied for food stamps twice but was denied. They told me I could come back and talk to one of their counselors about why I was denied, but I can’t take a day off work. If they had something open at night, maybe I could go. I’m not ripping off the government. I’m not feasting.
I would love to go to school to change my situation, but again, I can’t take a day off work. Sometimes people just need a little extra help — even just moral support. I’m happy to learn about ALICE. I'm happy that there’s a name for me now.