A high school senior is called on in class but can’t answer the question. He was distracted thinking about where to stay next. Estranged from his family, he has been couch surfing between friends but knows he’s outstaying his welcome. He needs to find a permanent place to live so he can finish out the school year and graduate.
A mother sits at a computer in the library, biting her nails as she contemplates temporarily giving up guardianship of her child. Although they won’t be together, it ensures that he can avoid being homeless.
An eight-year-old attempts to finish her daily math homework, but struggles as her fingers stiffen in the cold. Light is scarce as she sits in the back seat of the car where she and her mom are living, at least for now.
November is National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Month
Every year, the silent issue of homelessness in Northfield comes to the forefront during the month of November. Here at the Community Action Center, the most common landing spot for those in need of a place to stay, homelessness is something we see every day.
“Housing is expensive and takes a lot of resources,” said Kathy Bjerke, the CAC’s administrative director. “Being able to pay the average rent is out of reach for those making minimum wage. In addition, the amount of low-income housing out there is inadequate. It’s a scary situation.”
Finding housing for low-income families is an ongoing challenge in Rice County. The CAC continues to expand its temporary housing, but faces frequent shortages of available units.
According to the personal finance guides of the Wall Street Journal, a general rule of thumb is that 30 percent of one’s income should go toward rent or a mortgage payment, with another 3 to 10 percent spent on utilities. That means roughly a third of one’s income should be spent on housing, leaving the other two thirds to cover transportation, food, credit card bills, student loans, clothing and miscellaneous items. What does a monthly budget look like with a minimum wage job? Let’s break it down.
$7.25 per hour
$280 per week
$15,080 per year
$12,064 after taxes (assumes 20% of income is owed for taxes)
$1,005 total income per month
$301 each month to spend on housing and utilities
Sybil Betsinger, the CAC’s housing case manager, said, “A closer look at the numbers and it becomes apparent just how difficult it can be to meet housing payments for low-income families. At the CAC, we do our best to connect people with the resources they need to have a stable and warm place to live.”
For more information about the CAC’s housing services, call 507-664-3550 or email us at email@example.com.