Do you know that working people in Seattle need affordable housing? Here’s an unavoidable reality: many people with full-time or part-time jobs – or more than one job! – face a growing gulf between what they earn and what it costs to rent a place to live. Minimum wage is simply not enough to afford to pay market-rate rents.
Let’s consider an example of someone you may not think about – but someone we rely on every day in this city—a hospital custodian. A full-time custodian (40 hours/week, 52 weeks/year) at a medical center such as Harborview, near downtown Seattle, earns about $11.50 per hour, for a yearly income (before taxes) of $23,920. For this custodian, the cost of rent and utilities should be no more than $598/month to be considered affordable. If you’re from the area, you know that finding a safe, clean and quality apartment for $598 (including utilities!) in or near downtown Seattle is next to impossible. If the custodian wants to live close to the hospital, in a clean and safe apartment, it’s more realistic that he/she will end up paying around $900/mo for rent and utilities. That’s nearly half of the custodian’s income! After modest withholding, the custodian ends up with about $200 a week to pay for groceries, clothing, insurance, medical bills, etc. There’s certainly not enough left over to save for the future.
As you can see, the people who work in our hospitals, restaurants, schools and local stores are often one paycheck away from financial crisis – perhaps homelessness – unless there are affordable places to live in our cities. Without that affordability, the individuals and families that help sustain our cities are pushed out.