Community-based social service workers are essential to addressing our region's housing crisis.

For those most affected by the housing crisis, the repercussions of direct service workers not making living wages are dysfunctional systems that undermine our goals of addressing our housing crisis. Our region needs adequate pay for direct service workers doing the work of housing and keeping our community housed. Sign on to our letter to demand that county and city budgets include increases for higher wages within community-based organization contracts.

Community-based social workers make less than half of the local housing wage.

According to the 2022 “Out of Reach,” report from The National Low Income Housing Coalition a resident in the Portland Metro Area needs a $33/hour wage to afford a fair market two-bedroom apartment in the Portland Metro Area. Currently, there are social service worker positions starting as low as $16/hour at community-based organizations.With so many direct services workers on incomes less than half of the required wages, some community-based workers qualify for the housing subsidies they administer. Housing that is affordable generally refers to a household’s ability to pay for housing and still have money remaining for other expenses and savings. The common threshold for affordability is no more than 30% of a household’s income should be spent on housing costs.

Community-based social workers are the key to connecting our neighbors to stable housing.

When direct social service workers do not make a living wage, negatively impacts the folks they serve. Shuffling direct service workers around impacts their ability to build trusted relationships with the population in one area over time. Trust and expectations are at the heart of agencies’ ability to get households out of homelessness and keep them housed. We need a stable workforce to do this essential work.