As a coalition representing homeless service providers, we know that lagging wages are affecting community-based organization’s ability to administer services. Low wages not only impact an organization’s ability to retain staff but also a workers’ ability to meet their basic needs. This August, the Joint Office of Homeless Services (JOHS) released a study of provider compensation that confirms what service providers and advocates have been saying for years.

The report shows that the median salary for staff at community-based service providers is below 60% of the Area Median Average, meaning the majority of front-line workers in homeless services could qualify for housing subsidies in our area. Additionally, almost 70% of employees reported their salary did not allow them to take care of their basic needs.

Not only are low wages putting service providers in a position to qualify for the housing assistance they administer, but we also know that communities with marginalized identities are disproportionately represented in the social services sector. In this study, people of color, people who are transgender, and people who are nonbinary were disproportionately represented.

Importantly, the report shows that increasing pay equity can address issues of retention at community-based organizations. Over 50% of employees surveyed said they were somewhat or very likely to look for a new job during the next year and 78% said they would leave their current role if offered more pay somewhere else. However, 86% of employees said they would stay at their current organization for better pay.

The report confirms what we already know – to create a thriving workforce, we must adequately fund community-based organizations. With the Supportive Housing Services (SHS) Measure generating more revenue than anticipated, this is our chance to invest in the organizations and people on the ground working to support our unhoused neighbors in their transition into the housing that works for them.

Please contact your local county commissioner and tell them to allocate a portion of the unanticipated SHS funds to support capacity building for our local community-based organizations.

Read Welcome Home’s Takeaways

Read the Full Study