Wisconsin Institute for Research on Poverty

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United for ALICE

Research on Poverty

While our language has changed, the general idea of Poverty has remained relatively stable. To measure poverty the federal government began using a simple method to calculate poverty called the Federal Poverty Level.  In Wisconsin, to be at or below 100% of the Federal Poverty Level (or under the poverty line) a family of 4 would need to make $30,000 per year in 2023.  Approximately 11% of Wisconsin residents currently live below the poverty line (at or below 100% FPL).

As many groups began working towards the eradication of poverty, new definitions of poverty evolved, one being the United Way ALICE report. The United Way’s ALICE report takes into account a greater number of household expenses such as transportation, childcare and education.  According to the United Way ALICE Report, 1 in 3 Wisconsinites struggle to make ends need each month.  To cover the costs of expenses needed to live and work in Wisconsin, a family of 4 needs a household income of $63,324 per year in 2023.

Another measure associated with Poverty is the federal minimum wage. While many states have enacted higher wage requirements, Wisconsin still uses the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour.  To make $63,324 per year (per the ALICE report), a family of four would need to work 167 hours per week or have two minimum wage earners working 83 hours per week, 52 weeks per year.  If the federal minimum wage was actually tied to inflation, today the minimum wage would be $21.50 per hour (Center for Economic and Policy Research, 2023).

Research has found a great number of strategies to increase access to living wage employment and decrease income inequality. Since the founding of the Economic Opportunity Act, we also have a deeper understanding of the real impact living in poverty has on both people and our community.  For example, the CDC has found that people with steady employment are less likely to live in poverty and more likely to be healthy. However, people with disabilities, injuries, or chronic health conditions may be especially limited in their ability to work. In addition, many people with steady work still don’t earn enough to afford the things they need to stay healthy.

The University of Wisconsin’s County Health Rankings (CHR) considers income and income inequality as a major contributing factor of quality of life and the health of a community.  CHR shows that populations who have lower income and experience greater income inequality have higher risk of mortality, poor health, and increased cardiovascular disease risks. Additionally, they report communities with greater income inequality can experience a loss of social connectedness, as well as decreases in trust, social support, and a sense of community for all residents. Considering many of our current economic and social issues, policies and programs that address the root cause of income inequality could have a considerable positive impact on both Wisconsin and the United States.

Below are some additional articles about data on homelessness.

The Pitfalls of HUD’s Point-in-Time Count for Children, Youth, and Families

School House Connection

State of Homelessness: Wisconsin
National Alliance to End Homelessness

Young and Homeless in Rural America
New York Times Magazine

Education for Homeless Children and Youth data
Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction

Reimagining homelessness assistance for children and families
Journal of Children & Poverty

The New American Homeless
The New Republic

Below are some additional articles about data on Affordable Housing

Research Center: Wisconsin
United for ALICE

No State Has an Adequate Supply of Affordable Rental Housing for the Lowest Income Renters
National Low Income Housing Coalition

Visit this interactive map to learn “How Much do you Need to Earn to Afford a Modest Apartment in Your State”
National Low Income Housing Coalition

Out or Reach – The High Cost of Housing
National Low Income Housing Coalition

Rural America is Losing its Affordable Rental Housing
Housing Assistance Council

Upcoming Events



Advocacy Day

WISCAP hosts an annual advocacy day at the state capitol each spring to bring attention to issues impacting low-income communities, community action agencies, and stakeholders. Members are encouraged to schedule hill visits with legislators on this day. All CAA Board and Staff are welcome and encouraged to attend.

22 & 23


Annual Conference

WISCAP’s Annual Conference brings together Community Action Agency staff, board members, and community partners around essential topics such as food security, affordable housing and homeless services, weatherization, childcare, and economic development. Attendees are able to receive training and program updates from state agencies and subject matter experts. The annual conference is a great fit for program-level staff and managers to stay on top of trends and changes, while establishing strong relationships with peers across the state.



Poverty Matters Conference

As Wisconsin’s only statewide conference, the Poverty Matters Conference serves as a regional platform to raise awareness on issues impacting low-income families. For over 40 years, this conference has served as a major convening of state and federal agencies, community action agencies, individuals, and stakeholders dedicated to identifying common sense solutions and approaches to address and eliminate poverty.

View the 2024 Calendar


Become a Sponsor

Have you considered being more involved in the Community Action movement?  Maybe this year you should consider becoming an exhibit sponsor at the Annual Conference or Poverty Matters Conference. Check out all of our sponsorship opportunities by downloading our Sponsor...

WISCAP Annual Conference

WISCAP’s Annual Conference brings together Community Action Agency staff, board members, and community partners around essential topics such as food security, affordable housing and homeless services, weatherization, childcare, and economic development. Attendees are...

Brad Paul on WPR’s Morning Show

Brad Paul, Wisconsin Community Action Program Association's Executive Director was interviewed on The Morning Show on Wisconsin Public Radio this morning to talk about the root causes of homelessness, childcare and other topics. You can listen here:...