ALICE Conversations: Ona’s Story

(Sponsored) A partner organization with Aloha United Way, Honolulu Habitat for Humanity helps folks get out of poverty and into stable housing.


Derek and Ona

Photo: Courtesy of Aloha United Way.



Local nonprofits “actually build stability. They build family,” said Ona Salis, now a homeowner after years of family homelessness compelled him to call AUW who connected them to Honolulu Habitat for Humanity. Salis, his father, and his siblings went without stable housing for many years following a medical diagnosis that impaired Salis’ father’s ability to work. “If it wasnʻt for them, we wouldn’t be standing here today,” he said in an interview with HI Now.


As Hawai‘i experiences the first exciting glimmers of recovery from the pandemic’s effects, there are many who could be left behind. This is where many of Aloha United Way’s ALICE partner agencies come in. These valuable nonprofits, like Honolulu Habitat for Humanity, support upward financial mobility for lower-income families and individuals in Hawai‘i. ALICE is an acronym for Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed and it’s a new way to define and understand the households that earn above the Federal Poverty Level, but not enough to afford a bare-bones household budget.


For far too many in Hawai‘i, the cost of living outpaces what they earn, making it hard to get ahead. Hawai‘i’s ALICE households struggle to manage even their most basic needs: housing, food, transportation, childcare, health care, and technology.


This summer, Aloha United Way is hosting a free virtual summer conversation series to shine a light on Hawai‘i’s ALICE population and provide a venue for community conversation about making a greater impact together through collective impact. The virtual events will take place on July 29, and August 26, and all are invited to join.


Let’s work together to create equitable communities where every family and individual are empowered, thriving, and able to weather acute and chronic hardships. Learn more here.


Alice Flier