Key Terms

Household Survival Budget: The bare-minimum costs of basic necessities (housing, child care, food, transportation, health care, and a smartphone plan).

ALICE Threshold: The average income needed to afford the Household Survival Budget. Households below the ALICE Threshold include both ALICE and poverty-level households.

ALICE: Households with income above the Federal Poverty Level but below the basic cost of living.

Poverty: Households earning below the Federal Poverty Level

Total Households: The number of households as reported by the American Community Survey.

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Research Center

District of Columbia

We all know people who are ALICE: Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed — earning more than the Federal Poverty Level, but not enough to afford the basics where they live. ALICE workers were celebrated as essential heroes during the COVID-19 pandemic, yet they do not earn enough to support their own families.

ALICE households and households in poverty are forced to make tough choices, such as deciding between quality child care or paying the rent — choices that have long-term consequences not only for their families, but for all.

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State Downloads

District of Columbia


United For ALICE calculates the cost of household essentials in the District of Columbia. These costs, outlined in the Household Survival Budget, are calculated for various household sizes and compositions.

Of District of Columbia's 319,565 households in 2021…

  • 15% earned below the Federal Poverty Level (FPL)
  • 28% were ALICE, in households that earned above the FPL but not enough to afford the basics in the communities where they live
  • Together, 42% of households in the District of Columbia were below the ALICE Threshold (poverty + ALICE divided by total households)

While the COVID-19 pandemic brought employment shifts, health struggles, and school/business closures in 2021, it also spurred unprecedented public assistance through pandemic relief measures. In 2019, 116,939 households in the District of Columbia were below the ALICE Threshold; by 2021, that number had changed to 135,314. Use the buttons below to switch between ALICE data over time by number and percentage.

Total Households
Total Households
Total Households
Total Households
Total Households
Total Households
Total Households
View Source
Sources: ALICE Threshold, 2010-2021; American Community Survey, 2010-2021
View Source
Sources: ALICE Threshold, 2010-2021; American Community Survey, 2010-2021

Learn More

See this data — and more — on the District Reports page.

ALICE Lives in Every Community

ALICE household data for the District of Columbia is available by ZIP code and Census Designated Place (on the Maps page) and by Legislative District. You can also compare states and explore national-level data on the National Overview page or download an Excel version of this data.

Learn More

See maps with additional locations and topics on the Maps page.

ALICE Households are Diverse, but Financial Hardship is Not Equally Distributed

ALICE households are as diverse as the communities they live in. ALICE household data is available by race/ethnicity, household composition (families with children, single households), and age of householder. Exploring the demographics of financial hardship highlights inequities in the local economy.

For example, the figure below shows the substantial disparities in financial hardship that exist by race/ethnicity.

Households by Race/Ethnicity, District of Columbia, 2021

View Notes
Note: All racial categories except Two or More Races are for one race alone. Race and ethnicity are
overlapping categories; in this figure, the AI/AN (American Indian/Alaska Native), Asian, Black, Hawaiian
(includes other Pacific Islanders), and Two or More Races groups may include Hispanic households. The White
group includes only White, non-Hispanic households. The Hispanic group may include households of any race.
Because household poverty data is not available for the American Community Survey’s race/ethnicity categories,
annual income below $15,000 is used as a proxy.
View Source
Sources: ALICE Threshold, 2021; American Community Survey, 2021

Learn More

View more demographic data — including data by household type and age of householder for the District on the Demographics page.

ALICE Works Hard, But It’s Not Enough

A key contributor to the number of ALICE households in the District of Columbia is the fundamental mismatch between the cost of living and what jobs pay.

Top Occupations, Workers, Wages, and Percentage Below ALICE Threshold, District of Columbia, 2021

Median Hourly
Percent Median
Wage Change
From 2019
Percent Workers
View Source
Sources: ALICE Threshold, 2021; Bureau of Labor Statistics—Occupational Employment Statistics, 2021;
U.S. Census Bureau, American Community Survey, PUMS, 2019 and 2021

Learn More

Learn more about work in the District on the Labor Force page.

ALICE Data Can Inform Action

A catalyst for change, the ALICE research calls us all to action. Partner organizations across the country are using this research to inform programming, policy, evaluation, planning, and more.

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ALICE In Action

See what our partners are doing to help ALICE in the ALICE in Action database.

Indicators of Well-being

View ALICE data mapped with Indicators of community well-being

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Community Maps

Search for resources to help ALICE in your community on the Maps page