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Unions advocate for affordable housing as part of employee benefits packages

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Despite an increase in income to nearly $23 an hour, Troy Bowman still struggles to afford rent in Minneapolis, Illinois.

Unions all around the United States are advocating for affordable housing for workers, with costs rising far faster than incomes over the past decades.

The Chicago Teachers Union began this wave of housing-related union actions in 2019, demanding affordable housing and homelessness solutions. Other unions, including the Boston Teachers Union, University of California’s academic workers, unions in New York, and Los Angeles hotel workers have also followed suit.

Some unions are pushing for employers or themselves to develop quality housing directly for workers. In Vermont, Migrant Justice is campaigning for dairy employers to improve housing for farmworkers, while Los Angeles Unified School District is working to add more affordable housing for low-income students and families on district-owned land.

The issue of housing affordability is a significant struggle for workers. For example, Kathryn Jackson, a New York City hospital records clerk, found herself in a shelter in 2019 despite earning $21 an hour and being a part of SEIU Local 1199. Her rent and her daughter’s college tuition stretched her budget so thin that she had to spend down her pension.

Workers are living in fear of displacement due to gentrification, with median rents increasing by 89% from 2006 to 2021 in areas like Bedford-Stuyvesant. Jackson also expresses hope that her rent won’t be increased or that the building won’t be sold.

This content highlights the pervasive struggle for workers to afford housing across the United States and the efforts being made by unions to address this issue.

Photo credit
www.usatoday.com

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