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The Daily Tar Heel

Town of Carrboro to implement housing wage

The housing wage is a number developed by the federal government that sets the minimum household income that allows people to afford housing, Carrboro Town Manager David Andrews said.

“It answers the question, ‘How much do you have to make in order to have decent, affordable housing?’” he said.

The Board of Aldermen made a plan to bring all employees up to the housing wage level over a five-year period.

“We are happy to report that we will be able to do that in three years instead of five,” Andrews said.

Carrboro Board of Aldermen member Damon Seils said all town employee salaries will be at housing wage level by July.

Andrews said when the discussions to implement the housing wage policy began in 2013, there were 15 town employees whose yearly salaries were less than the housing wage, which is $31,160.

Seils said this is equivalent to about $15 per hour.

Andrews said the employees who made less than the housing wage were hardworking employees that keep the town clean. He said some positions affected were custodians, maintenance workers and groundskeepers.

Carol Dorsey, director of human resources for Carrboro, said in a statement that she spoke with town employee Weldon Jenkins, who was affected by the housing wage policy.

“I thought the raise was great and I really appreciated it,” said Weldon Jenkins, an employee for the landscaping division of public works, in the statement. “I definitely noticed it, and it made a difference.”

Seils said Andrews was able to find the funds in the budget to make the wage increase happen pretty quickly.

“It’s exciting news, not only because we are going to finish early, but one of my goals is to get the town certified with the Orange County Living Wage project,” Seils said. “By completing this in July we will just need a few more steps to be certified.”

The Orange County Living Wage Project is an organization launched by community members with the goal of promoting a living wage for Orange County residents. The project encourages public and private employers to pay a living wage to their employees.

Seils said Steel String Brewery and other Carrboro businesses are already certified, and he wants Carrboro to be certified, as well.

Dorsey also said in the statement that she spoke with Kevin Wright, a public works equipment operator.

“I think it was a good thing that the town did because it showed that the town looks after us,” Wright said in the same statement. “Times have really been hard, and I had to work other part-time jobs to support my family. My wife is a teacher’s assistant and they don’t make much money, so the raise from the town helped take some of the pressure off of us. I’m really thankful to the town of Carrboro.”

@meganroyer

city@dailytarheel.com

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