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I Was Okay Living in the Culvert until the City Made Me Move

Recently, I provided a workshop to a group of professionals working to reduce instability in their county. When we were discussing housing, I overheard a participant say that one of her clients told her he was doing great living in the culvert until the city made him move. Housing problems can take a huge hit on your employees. This hit creates instability and plays into our employees’ ability to arrive at work on time and be ready to work.

Habitat for Humanity has a nice blog about housing and instability. It highlights seven reasons why housing continues to keep employees in instability:

1. There are different definitions of poverty: Poverty is about more than finances.

2. People living in poor circumstances are not necessarily who (or where) you think: Some of your employees are in the poverty demographic.

3. Affordable housing is hard to find: Affordable housing is very hard to find. “In the U.S., for every 100 renter households classified as extremely low-income, just 35 rental units are both available and affordable.”

4. A full-time job (or two) might not be enough for a family to afford a decent place to live: Given each state and locality’s minimum wage, a report finds that the average minimum wage worker in the United States would need to work nearly 97 hours per week to afford an average two-bedroom home. That’s more than two full-time jobs.

5. Having a house (or apartment) doesn’t mean you aren’t living in poor circumstances: Mold, airy windows, lack of insulation, no furnace, leaky roofs, and broken floors can all be circumstances your employees are dealing with.

6. Poverty perpetuates, but so does homeownership: Yes it does.

7. Housing is health: Good housing provides employees with a healthier life.

Many entry-level, lower-wage employees are living in unstable housing. Many times, multiple families are living together because of the inability to pay rent and a lack of affordable housing. Overcrowding brings a host of issues, including little to no privacy, difficulty keeping track of paperwork, storage issues, hygiene issues, and a lack of bedrooms for sleeping, all of which create difficulty in getting a good night’s sleep.

Why is this a work issue? Poor housing and overcrowding creates sleep deprivation because of the aforementioned lack of bedrooms and lack of privacy, not to mention a lack of beds and a lack of undisturbed time. This most likely will eventually impact productivity and attendance. In the end, it becomes a human resources/supervisor issue.

To learn more about the environments of economic class and how they impact the success of your business and your employees, join the Workplace Stability workshop offered on May 6. Register and learn more today.

About the Author: Ruth K. Weirich, MBA is an author, trainer, and management professional experienced in business operations efficiency and profitability. She is also a past president of aha! Process, an education and training company specializing in economic class issues. Contact:;


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