The reality for low-skilled individuals working in Dallas is bleak. They are not qualified for jobs that pay enough to cover basic living expenses, allow for savings and provide benefits. Working at Texas’ minimum wage of $7.25/hour, an individual would need to work 86 hours a week to afford a modest one-bedroom home. Forty-five percent of households in Dallas don’t have enough savings, $6,275 or less, to replace poverty-level income for three months. Of these households, 53,000 families live in poverty with an income of $25,000 or less for a family of four.
ConsequencesInjury at work: As a single mom with two young boys, Ashley earned about $12 an hour working full time at a retail store. Even with earning occasional overtime pay, she had little income left for savings or unexpected expenses. In June, Ashley fell at work and injured herself. Her doctor told her it would be at least three weeks before she could return to work. She qualified for Workers’ Compensation, but the coverage didn’t begin until eight days after her injury and paid only 80% of her normal take-home pay. In addition, Ashley had to pay nearly $200 to cover her medical co-pay. Although she had a little money saved, it wasn’t enough. Ashley had no way to pay her upcoming July rent payment. She received an eviction notice and was about to be locked out of her home.
Working for poverty-level income: Leslyn worked full time as a retail manager to support herself and her son. However, she struggled to make ends meet: she had an auto title loan with 157% interest, and had accumulated additional debt and warrants from unpaid traffic tickets. Establishing a checking or savings account was impossible. When the store Leslyn worked for was closed she found a new job. However, her pay went down to $12 an hour and her weekly hours fluctuated between 32-36 hours, and did not provide benefits. With lowered income and mounting debt, she eventually received an eviction notice from her apartment complex.
Laid off from work & family medical issues: VaNessa lost her job and health care insurance when the agency she worked for lost funding. This created a huge crisis for VaNessa because her teenage daughter, Tia, experienced serious medical issues that required hospitalization. VaNessa drained her 401k to pay medical bills. Thankfully, her daughter’s health improved, but VaNessa ended up worse than broke. She was on the verge of becoming homeless. “I had never asked for help from anyone. Never been on the government system or programs of any type,” VaNessa said.