The Low-Income Worker Housing Stability Project will aim to address what the Willamette Week* classified as the "thorniest problem" that Oregon faces: homelessness, and lack of affordable housing. Complementing what we already know to be true about employment law, we aim to concretely prove a connection between wage theft (and other forms of employment abuse) and housing instability. Then, we will muster evidence to prove that implementing a small, revolving loan fund, with the loan secured by the client’s ultimate civil recovery, would be an effective strategy to preserve family housing during the interim of fighting a wage theft case.
We are pleased to announce that Maggie Black has been hired to coordinate this project. Originally hailing from Fairbanks, Alaska, Maggie moved to Portland in 2011 and graduated with a BA in Spanish Literature from Reed College in 2015; she is fluent in Spanish and English. After having worked directly with people experiencing homelessness on housing initiatives, she is excited to further pursue the investigation of housing as a key player in the cycle of poverty— and particularly how violations in the workplace may trigger these issues. Together with NWJP staff, she will be researching the ways in which wage theft directly contributes to homelessness. Her project will include analysis of the devastating effects of loss of income leading to loss of housing, via community discussions; client testimonials; and frank, honest conversation regarding the often seemingly despairing intersectionality of wages and the rising cost of rent.
If you are someone who is interested in being part of the conversation or has personally experienced a loss of a home as a result of unjust workplace circumstances, please do not hesitate to reach out to Maggie or the rest of the staff at Northwest Workers’ Justice Project.