karen002Karen Hernandez, Director, ReDirect Nuevo Camino

I work with a lot of families and with the average rate of pay, many can’t even afford an apartment. They have to share and combine households just to be able to have a place to live – which is typically too small a home for this. Sometimes you’ll see seven to eight members of a family living in a 2-bedroom apartment. It’s also due to the fact that there aren’t larger rentals available or affordable. And it’s not just a few families that do this, it’s a large population of working people that are forced to do this to have a roof over their and their families’ heads.

There are people who are working more than one job, or working 50 or more hours per week, but the wages are too low to afford to rent a home for their family on their own. Often with two working parents, the combined income isn’t enough to afford their own home either.

And then there’s a lack of low-income or affordable housing available as well. The waiting list for low-income housing is usually two to three years, and they have to do something in the meantime to live, so often shared family housing – with friends or other family members – is a solution for them. These are people that aren’t on welfare – they’re working families with no public assistance.

On a personal basis, I live in a household of three and I’m the only one working – I have a really good job at a nonprofit in Lincoln. But with what I make, an apartment is in the range of $1,200 to $1,400 here and that’s a little bit over half my income for the month. It doesn’t leave any room for much else. I qualify to buy a home in the range of $220-$250,000 and you can’t find a home at that price or, if you do, you can’t find one that’s the size you need for three people.