Are We Better Off After Welfare?

by Donald Whitehead

        On December 8 the Greater Cincinnati Coalition for the Homeless along with the Welfare Rights Coalition held a joint press conference to publicize "Working Hard Earning Less".

        The report was a joint venture between Jobs with Justice and The National Priorities Project. The report focused on the lack of livable wage jobs being produced in the United States.

        The press conference used information pertaining to Ohio specifically. In Ohio 79% of new jobs pay less than half the livable wage. Welfare recipients who must find jobs are especially impacted. Studies by both the National Governor's Association and the Census Bureau find that most jobs held by former recipients pay between $5.50 and $7.00 an hour averaging $11,410 and $14,560 a year. Only 28.8% earn above the $14,500 poverty level for a family of three.

        Studies have also found that 40% of those in homeless shelters work everyday. The panel also included a homeless man who works full-time and is still not able to find housing.

        According to a study by the National Coalition for the Homeless in 1997 titled Unabated and Increasing the cost for a one bedroom apartment is $7.63 an hour and the cost of a two bedroom is $9.37 an hour on average. Many cities across the country have started successful living wage campaigns. It was the hope of organizers of the press conference that there would be renewed interest in a livable wage campaign indexed to the cost of housing in Cincinnati.

Copyright February 1999 by the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless and the Homeless Grapevine, Cleveland, Ohio.