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Jeff – Working his way back into a home

Jeff worked hard all his life, and now he makes $11/hr – more than he’s ever made – and it’s still hard to make ends meet. He can’t imagine getting by on $7.25 / hr

Idaho must raise its minimum wage so hardworking people like Jeff can support themselves and their families.

Jeff Chapman of Idaho
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“I make $11 an hour. To be honest, I have never made that much money in my life,” says Jeff about his job as Food Distribution Manager at Interfaith Sanctuary in Boise. His work history includes folding laundry ($7.50 / hr), janitorial ($8.00 / hr) and window manufacturing ($10.75 / hr ). Jeff admits the window manufacturing was a good job, but, “I ended up screwing that up.” Conflicts with a roommate forced Jeff to leave his housing arrangement. Jeff has lived at Interfaith Sanctuary since 2019.

Jeff saves as much money as possible with his part-time job. He hopes to save $7,000 by the time his position ends. He would like to work in a restaurant, live on his own and give back to the community. That dream isn’t easy to achieve, even with the support of subsidized housing.

Jeff’s Independent Living Budget:Communal HousingSubsidized 1 bedroom apt
Ongoing monthly expenses$128$128
Housing*$500$800
Food$300$300
Transportation**$20$20
Payroll Taxes (estimate)$120$200
Total Monthly Expenses$1,068$1,448
Needed monthly income to move from Interfaith Sanctuary*$1,667$2,667
Equivalent fulltime hourly salary (assumes 160 hrs / mo):$10$17
*Housing requires 30% of income be paid as rent
** Transportation costs low as Jeff only has a bicycle

Jeff’s situation represents the reality of anyone starting from scratch, regardless of their age. Low wages make it nearly impossible to live independently. Entry-level wages in the food service industry range from $8.50 to $12.50 per hour. The communal living option is within reach as long as Jeff can find a fulltime job!

We can do better, Idaho. Idahoans for a Fair Wage will be his first customers when he gets a restaurant job.

Jeff’s situation represents the reality of anyone starting from scratch, regardless of their age. Low wages make it nearly impossible to live independently. Entry-level wages in the food service industry range from $8.50 to $12.50 per hour. The communal living option is within reach as long as Jeff can find a fulltime job!

We can do better, Idaho. Idahoans for a Fair Wage will be his first customers when he gets a restaurant job.

Josh – Working, Yet Struggling to Cover Family Expenses

With the cost of housing, Josh struggles with getting ahead and meeting his family’s monthly expenses.

With an estimated $800-$900 / month for 1-bedroom subsidized housing, his family struggles to meet their financial needs.

Josh Idaho minimum wage
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Prior to March of 2020, Josh rented a 3-bedroom home in Caldwell for his wife and 16-year-old son. Josh lost his job due to the COVID pandemic and his wife sustained severe back injuries in a home accident, preventing her from contributing to the household income. As a result, the family was forced to make a series of moves – from the rental home to a 1-bedroom apartment from which they were evicted, missing eligibility for the Center for Disease Control Eviction Restriction by hours. From there they found temporary housing in a hotel, and then found shelter with Interfaith Sanctuary.

Josh has worked in several technical support jobs paying $13 to $15 / hour. He is currently employed in the Amazon warehouse, a physical job with long 10-hour days and only two 30-minute breaks. Health insurance benefits are provided; however, premiums further reduce his take-home pay.

With the cost of housing, Josh struggles with getting ahead and meeting his family’s monthly expenses. With an estimated $800-$900 / month for 1-bedroom subsidized housing, his family struggles to meet their financial needs. Josh and his family continue to search for permanent housing.

Anna – Essential worker striving for stability

An essential worker, Anna earns $12 an hour as a home health caregiver.

She dreams of renting a place of her own, but even a subsidized one-bedroom apartment is out of reach given her current income level.

Josh Idaho minimum wage
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“I love my job, I love my clients. But the inconsistent hours and low wages are very frustrating,” says Anna. An essential worker, she earns $12 an hour as a home health caregiver, providing non-medical services such as bathing, assisting, housekeeping and transportation to homebound residents.

Anna has worked for the same local private agency for nearly two years, but today only makes the same hourly wage as new employees. She is scheduled for 35 hours a week, but works less when clients cancel on short notice or allotted home visits covered by insurance run out before month’s end. “I never know when this will happen, clients can cancel right up to the time of the appointment and then I don’t get paid,” Anna says. “That makes it very hard to budget.”

Anna has lived at Interfaith Sanctuary since June 2020. Prior to that, she was homeless on and off for a few years, including living for a time in her car and in several halfway houses as she struggled to put her life back together. Since then, Anna has made great strides, as her stable work history and enthusiasm for her job attest.

Anna dreams of someday being able to rent a place of her own, but even a subsidized one-bedroom apartment is out of reach for her for now given her current income level. As a first step, she is hoping to move into communal housing that allows small pets. She would love to be reunited with her cat, Kitty, which has been fostered for the past 2 years and that she visits each month. “I make more money than some but not enough to be able to afford my own place,” Anna says. “A higher wage, and consistent full-time hours I can count on, would really help.”

Anna shows grit and determination in building a sustainable life, and has gained skills and expertise performing essential work in home health care. Idahoans for a Fair Wage applaud her efforts and those of other Idaho citizens to build a better future. A fair wage is critical to making those dreams a reality.