Almost 80 percent of UNC Facilities Services employees are burdened by Orange County housing costs, according to The Daily Tar Heel's analysis of Facilities Services salary data compared to the average housing costs in the county.
About 37 percent of these employees make less than a living wage in the Durham-Chapel Hill area, which is $17.32 an hour for one adult with no children.
In other words, hundreds of Facilities Services workers are priced out of living in Chapel Hill — not to mention others who may earn more than a living wage but choose to live outside Chapel Hill in favor of lower-cost areas.
In this horrible irony, a large fraction of the University’s essential workers are excluded from partaking in the benefits of the very community that relies so heavily on their contributions.
This spatial mismatch, the gap between where jobs are located and where people live, threatens the livelihood of our Facilities Services employees, as it can result in high unemployment and extended joblessness.
It also means many workers commute and pay for parking daily, making the journey from home to work a costly one. A daytime parking pass for workers making less than $32,000 annually costs between $453 and $596 per year, which is another expensive financial burden on already low wages.
This shortage of affordable housing and livable wages is even more alarming given that Facilities Services is undergoing a “high volume of staff vacancies,” according to its website. How can we expect employees to want these positions if they can’t afford to work and live here?