Unaffordable housing can have major impacts on your workforce and business. In order to work effectively, employees need to have access to stable housing. With housing expenses increasing and the eviction crisis on the rise, it can be a difficult time to retain your employees. 

Are you giving your workers access to the resources and support they need to navigate these housing challenges? Discover how to best support your employees when they are negatively impacted by the housing and rental markets. 

The high cost of housing for employees

Many households are still experiencing the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Fifty-nine percent of U.S. employees are worried about their financial futures, with more than half saying “money concerns” are preventing them from doing their best at work. Coupled with the high cost of housing, these financial concerns are only escalating. Learn just how unattainable it can be for many Americans to afford housing:

  • Eleven of the 20 largest occupations in the United States pay a lower median hourly wage than what a full-time worker needs to earn to afford a modest apartment at the national average fair market rent.
  • In no state, metropolitan area, or county in the U.S. can a worker earning the federal or prevailing state or local minimum wage afford a modest two-bedroom rental home at fair market rent by working a standard 40-hour work week.
  • In only 7% of all U.S. counties (218 counties out of more than 3,000 nationwide, not including Puerto Rico) can a full-time minimum-wage worker afford a one-bedroom rental home at fair market rent.
  • According to this year’s Out of Reach report from the National Low Income Housing Coalition, it’s estimated that a full-time worker must earn at least $20.40 per hour to rent a modest one-bedroom home, or $24.90 per hour to rent a modest two-bedroom home. 

Eviction crisis

With housing prices increasing, it is no surprise that evictions are also rising nationwide. During the pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a federal eviction moratorium that prevented landlords from removing people from their homes for the nonpayment of rent. The eviction moratorium was a critical health measure despite any economic implications it had for landlords. However, the moratorium did not forgive any rent that is owed, it just pushed that debt into the future. Now that the moratorium has ended, tenants are expected to pay back rent. This is difficult for the many who have lost their jobs during the pandemic. The failure to pay can result in eviction.

Renters with evictions on their rental records face greater difficulty when trying to find suitable housing options. For many people, evictions can cause psychological trauma, impacting their emotional, social, and physical well-being. In turn, this trauma affects job performance and stability. 

The likelihood of job loss increases with housing instability. According to an article published by Matthew Desmond and Carl Gershenson, working renters who lose their home, often as a result of eviction, are up to 22 percent more likely to lose their job. Evictees can end up moving to less suitable locations, which may lead to increased absenteeism and poorer work performance—all contributing factors to job loss. 

The link between housing costs and the labor shortage 

According to researchers at the Federal Bank of Boston, unaffordable housing poses “significant negative effects” on local employment. Currently, there is a labor shortage in the U.S. as Americans are quitting their jobs in hopes of new opportunities and higher pay. While average wages have increased for workers, the labor shortage isn’t close to ending. Simultaneously, there is a shortage of available homes in the U.S. due to bidding wars and the fast price growth of homes. The labor shortage and unaffordable housing are linked. Cities with many job openings do not provide affordable housing needed by many workers. Likewise, areas with cheaper housing do not have advantageous labor markets. However, cities like Columbus, are combatting this by creating affordable housing and placing it near transit. In turn, low-income residents are able to be connected to employment opportunities. 

It is extremely difficult for someone to seek or maintain employment when they do not have housing. Improving housing affordability doesn’t just lift job growth; It keeps workers from losing the jobs they have. 

How WorkLife Partnership can help

WorkLife Resource Navigators will help connect your employees to the resources and support they need to stay in their homes. Our Navigators serve employees across the country and are well versed in all the nuances that go into different housing and rental markets. In fact, WorkLife has provided 1,486 different housing-related services to the employees we have supported this year. Other ways WorkLife Partnership can help your employees:

  • Providing financial guidance so employees can be confident in managing their budgets to account for increasing housing expenses 
  • Supporting employees in navigating eviction notices
  • Connecting employees to local and federal assistance programs so that they can stay on top of housing related expenses
  • Coaching employees on how to speak with their landlords should they fall behind on their rent 

Below is a great example of the impact WorkLife has on the employees our Resource Navigators support:

Adina and her mother were on the brink of becoming homeless. Their housing voucher was terminated two years ago, and they were denied for every apartment they applied for because of Adina’s mother’s poor credit history and criminal background. They were sleeping on couches and staying with friends just to get by. When Adina reached out to a WorkLife Navigator, she felt like she was running out of options.

Since Adina was under the age of 18, her mother was required to be the primary lessee on any lease agreement. To address this requirement, the WorkLife Navigator began coaching Adina on how to talk to landlords about her mother’s credit history and background. Once Adina felt confident having these conversations, she began reaching out to landlords of properties near her place of work. The Navigator also referred Adina to a local housing search and rental assistance program. The organization agreed to assist Adina with $500 toward her first month’s rent once she secured an apartment. While Adina was researching housing options, the Navigator contacted the Salvation Army. After learning about Adina’s situation, they agreed to pay an additional $300 toward Adina’s security deposit. 

Just one week after contacting the Navigator for help, Adina was excited to report that she had found a landlord who was willing to rent her an apartment. With $800 secured, Adina and her mother were able to move into their own apartment after not having one for nearly two years. Now that she has a place to call home, Adina can focus on her job performance and graduating from high school. 

If you’d like to learn more about how WorkLife can support you in helping your employees overcome the challenges associated with housing costs, don’t hesitate to contact us.