As housing becomes more and more expensive in our community, the impact on low wage workers has grown increasingly severe. Many workers are living paycheck to paycheck, and are dangerously close—sometimes one late or lost paycheck--from losing their housing. Despite the progress made with the relocation ordinance in Portland, workers who are victims of wage theft currently have little support when it comes to keeping their housing.
Thanks to a new grant from the Oregon Law Foundation we are going to target a problem that we have long known existed, but have not had the resources to address. The funding comes as a result of the 2014 settlement on mortgage-related litigation between the U.S. Department of Justice and the Bank of America Corporation.
Beginning in 2018, we will begin targeting wage theft cases where housing stability is in play. In addition to helping such workers recover wages, we hope to create opportunities for cheated workers to get through a difficult time caused by not getting their pay. Working with community partners, we will first seek to establish the links between non-payment of wages and housing instability and the effectiveness of temporary relief in keeping families in their housing in such circumstances. Our long-term goal is the development of a revolving loan fund that will help workers pay their rent while they work to recover those lost wages. The loans would be repaid with the recovery from the workers’ wage claim.