On my way home from work, I might exchange pleasantries with the cashier at the grocery store where I stop to pick up some milk and eggs, or at dry cleaners where I retrieve the sweaters I dropped off last week. I don’t have little kids at home now, but a few years ago, a stop at their child care provider’s home might have been next. Then, pulling into my garage I might catch a glimpse of my neighbor who drives a bus for the Minneapolis Public Schools, or the guy down the block who works for a landscaping business, mowing in summer and plowing in winter. Two Fridays a month I open my door and walk into a blessedly tidy house, courtesy of the woman who cleans my home.
Here’s what all those people have in common besides that they’re peripherally part of my life: All of them could be struggling to pay their rent or mortgage.
According to the Family Housing Fund, people earning an average wage performing those jobs full time—cashier, dry cleaner, child care provider, housecleaner, bus driver and landscaper –don’t earn enough to afford metro area rents for a two-bedroom ($1,033 per month) or to buy a modest home ($167,000 median sale price). Their report was updated in December 2012 to reflect current housing costs and median wages for a variety of typical service jobs most of us rely on every day. The odds go up for a household with two earners – and down for a single-parent household.
Safe, decent housing is not a luxury, it’s a basic human right, and it should be affordable to hard-working people in the communities where they live and work.