Read

User menu

Search form

San Francisco: "I Don’t Think You Can Survive in This City on Minimum Wage"

San Francisco: "I Don’t Think You Can Survive in This City on Minimum Wage"
Mon, 4/29/2013 - by Christopher D. Cook
This article originally appeared on San Francisco Public Press

On a recent lunch hour in the bustling cafeteria at St. Anthony’s Church in the Tenderloin, where free meals are served daily to hundreds of cashless San Franciscans, Jelua Montero nourished herself with a tray of hot chicken posole, bread and vegetables.

The Nicaragua-born 47-year-old, with wavy black hair and a wiry but sturdy build, gets lunch here often — especially since she lost her minimum wage job in January working as a security guard downtown at the Westfield Mall. But even before that, working seven days a week with no overtime pay, Montero said she was barely making ends meet, even with an array of free services offered to homeless people.

“I was able to survive in a shelter, by eating in a shelter,” Montero said. “I was working and working and still couldn’t get a room, couldn’t get into an SRO” — a single-room occupancy hotel. Montero said she has been waiting a long time for subsidized housing, but her number hasn’t come up yet.

Through the 1990s, Montero shared a two-bedroom, rent-controlled apartment near San Francisco General Hospital for $550 a month — but since losing her space in 2003, she has struggled to find a new place to live, despite being regularly employed as a guard. With rents soaring and housing limited, Montero said, “I don’t think you can survive in this city on the minimum wage. The rents are too high — the landlords are getting all the money.”

As President Obama’s minimum wage hike proposal renews a national debate over costs and benefits, many low-wage workers in San Francisco say they can hardly get by even on the nation’s highest minimum wage of $10.55, which is nearly $3 an hour higher than the federal rate.

“If it weren’t for my subsidized housing, I’d be out of luck,” said Mark Anthony, 56, who needs extra benefits from the city and from charities, even though he makes about $12 an hour working banquets part time for Select Staffing.

“I’ve been pinching pennies, it’s very challenging,” Anthony said over his chicken posole lunch at St. Anthony’s, sitting family style with other hungry adults and families. “I couldn’t hardly afford to feed myself if it weren’t for this place.”

A few tables over, 49-year-old Marcus Taplin said he was able to survive in the city, thanks only to a range of services supporting his minimum-wage janitorial job in the Tenderloin. Without the help, he said, “I don’t think I’d be in the city at all.”

As rents have soared above $1,500 for a typical studio apartment and more than $2,000 for a one-bedroom, low-income workers say San Francisco’s minimum wage isn’t enough to keep up. A full-time minimum-wage job in the city brings in $21,100 before taxes. Yet a below-market-rate rent of $1,000 a month amounts to $12,000 a year — more than half of that income.

Nationally, the minimum wage has not even come close to keeping pace with inflation. According to data analysis by the Economic Policy Institute using 2011 dollars, the federal minimum wage of $7.25 that year was worth a full dollar per hour less than the minimum in 1967.

“A lot of people are ‘making it’ by going without,” said Colleen Rivecca, advocacy coordinator for St. Anthony’s, “by skipping meals, not going to the doctor and walking instead of taking the bus.”

In 2011, St. Anthony’s surveyed its dining room visitors and found that 19 percent had “no income whatsoever” and 29 percent reported income of less than $100 a month. Nearly all, 91 percent, earned less than $1,000 per month.

When asked if it’s possible to survive in San Francisco on the minimum wage, Jim Lazarus, vice president of the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, said he believed it could be done: “Like it or not,” Lazarus said, “it’s called roommates and multiple-income households. My wife and I have both worked for years, and our kids work and live with roommates.”

Originally published by San Francisco Public Press.

 
 

Sign Up

Article Tabs

manosphere, incels, misogyny, black men, black women, racism, sexism, Black Manosphere

In response to the racism often targeted exclusively toward black men on majority white digital spaces, black males have created their own manosphere – where they rail against black women.

Act Out! [187] - How Police Are A Public Health Issue + Extinction Rebellion’s Move To Save Humanity

First up, Policing is a public health issue. Next, Extinction Rebellion wants to save humanity. Here's how they're going about it.

#MeToo, #MeTooIndia, male abusers, misogny, women coming forward, naming accusers, Indian feminist movement, Indian sex abusers, sexual abuse

It may have taken a full year for the #MeToo movement to reach India, but the storm has hit – and loudly.

necessity defense, climate trial, climate civil disobedience, carbon emissions, climate arrests, Duluth climate trial

Following three arrests of climate protesters at a Wells Fargo branch in Minnesota, the court's decision could hinge on whether there was a feasible “legal alternative” to civil disobedience in the struggle against climate injustice.

U.K. poverty, U.K. inequality, rising inequality, hunger crisis, homelessness crisis, U.K. homelessness, U.K. austerity cuts

Following his 2-week tour of the U.K., the UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights slammed Britain's welfare-cutting policies as more are driven to poverty, hunger and homelessness.

rising emissions, climate catastrophe, Global Carbon Project, climate impacts, carbon emissions, carbon cuts

According to a new Global Carbon Project report, emissions are heading in the opposite direction to the deep cuts that are urgently needed to prevent the worst impacts of climate change.

rising inequality, income inequality, global wealth, costs of inequality

Americans pay a steep price for not spreading their wealth around as well as other developed countries.

manosphere, incels, misogyny, black men, black women, racism, sexism, Black Manosphere

In response to the racism often targeted exclusively toward black men on majority white digital spaces, black males have created their own manosphere – where they rail against black women.

Minds, anti-Facebook, crypto social network, surveillance programs, social media addiction

Now is the time to defend the remnants of the Information Revolution. Take off the corporate gag, close the social media surveillance blinds, and shift.

Act Out! [187] - How Police Are A Public Health Issue + Extinction Rebellion’s Move To Save Humanity

First up, Policing is a public health issue. Next, Extinction Rebellion wants to save humanity. Here's how they're going about it.

manosphere, incels, misogyny, black men, black women, racism, sexism, Black Manosphere

In response to the racism often targeted exclusively toward black men on majority white digital spaces, black males have created their own manosphere – where they rail against black women.

Posted 3 days 10 hours ago
necessity defense, climate trial, climate civil disobedience, carbon emissions, climate arrests, Duluth climate trial

Following three arrests of climate protesters at a Wells Fargo branch in Minnesota, the court's decision could hinge on whether there was a feasible “legal alternative” to civil disobedience in the struggle against climate injustice.

Posted 6 days 7 hours ago
#MeToo, #MeTooIndia, male abusers, misogny, women coming forward, naming accusers, Indian feminist movement, Indian sex abusers, sexual abuse

It may have taken a full year for the #MeToo movement to reach India, but the storm has hit – and loudly.

Posted 5 days 1 min ago
gilets jaunes, yellow jackets, Paris protests, Paris riots, anti-fuel tax, gas tax, climate measures, violent protesters

President Macron is facing his biggest crisis yet since violence erupted Saturday following weeks of street protests that began against fuel taxes and have turned into an anti-government movement.

Posted 6 days 7 hours ago
Fast-food workers, cashiers, cooks, delivery people and their supporters rally outside New York City Hall on May 24, 2017. Photo: Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

The Fight for 15 movement to raise minimum wages directly led to a collective $68 billion raise for 22 million low-wage workers in both the public and private sectors, according to a new analysis.

Posted 6 days 7 hours ago
gilets jaunes, yellow jackets, Paris protests, Paris riots, anti-fuel tax, gas tax, climate measures, violent protesters

President Macron is facing his biggest crisis yet since violence erupted Saturday following weeks of street protests that began against fuel taxes and have turned into an anti-government movement.

#MeToo, #MeTooIndia, male abusers, misogny, women coming forward, naming accusers, Indian feminist movement, Indian sex abusers, sexual abuse

It may have taken a full year for the #MeToo movement to reach India, but the storm has hit – and loudly.

Act Out! [187] - How Police Are A Public Health Issue + Extinction Rebellion’s Move To Save Humanity

First up, Policing is a public health issue. Next, Extinction Rebellion wants to save humanity. Here's how they're going about it.

manosphere, incels, misogyny, black men, black women, racism, sexism, Black Manosphere

In response to the racism often targeted exclusively toward black men on majority white digital spaces, black males have created their own manosphere – where they rail against black women.

Scott Walker, Wisconsin GOP, Wisconsin protests

Michigan’s Republican-led legislature is also trying to disempower the state’s newly-elected Democratic governor.