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There’s No Place Like Home

Is Housing a Real Issue?

Safe, affordable, high quality housing is as rare as a unicorn. If housing for low-wage earners is affordable, it’s not safe, it’s a long commute, and it can make it difficult for low-wage earners to hold a job.

Here’s why finding affordable housing is, by far, the most challenging problem for low-wage, economically-fragile workers. It’s easy math.

Experts recommend that you spend no more than 30% of your gross income on housing.  For someone who is paid $10 per hour, this amounts to spending no more than $520 per month.

According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, there are more than 11.2 million renter households spending over half of their income on housing. Over 20 million renter households in the US “cannot afford to meet their other basic needs like food, transportation, medical care, and other goods and services after they pay for their housing.”

As wages rose 2-3% in observance of overall inflation between 2017 and 2018, US consumer prices for gas rose more than 20%, according the US Labor Department. These costs can make coming to work a losing proposition.

Serving “Our” Customers

It is a myth that businesses only need to solve problems for customers.  To serve customers, businesses need to solve problems for low-wage, economically-fragile workers in respectful, dignified ways that economically-fragile workers will accept.

Here are some of Dasher’s solution: 

One of our teammates had very little working heat in her “affordable” rental unit and the landlord was not repairing it.  We provided more blankets and portable heaters.  We are working closely with our teammate on budgeting and supporting her as she continues to search for better, affordable housing.

We have a teammate who was evicted when water damage from a fire upstairs damaged her apartment.  We helped her pay for a moving van and we paid the security deposit for another apartment.   She missed very little work time and she was permitted to make up the time she missed so she would not lose any take home pay.

Education:

There are two other helpful programs that low-wage workers can utilize — Low Income Heating Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).  The key is to educate your teammates about these programs in ways that safeguard their dignity.

In our next blog entry, “Got Milk?”, we explain food insecurity and how to test for it.

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