Raise in minimum wage can help with housing costs, will impact employers

Reporter: Rachel Cox-Rosen Writer: Jack Lowenstein
Published: Updated:
Credit: WINK News.

Florida voters overwhelmingly voted to pass Amendment 2, raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2026.

We looked at how the gradual shift to a $15 hourly minimum wage in the state could impact Collier County Wednesday.

In Collier County, those bills are steep, especially when it comes to housing.

Lisa Lefkow, the CEO of Habitat for humanity in Collier County, says raising the minimum wage isn’t all that’s needed to fix the problem, but it should help.

“It will now provide folks who are struggling again, families that are having to work multiple jobs in order to be able to afford rent to hopefully at least make some different decisions,” Lefkow said.

FGCU professor Tom Smythe, an expert in economics and finance, agrees but only in the short term.

“Businesses won’t have any choice but to respond, either by laying off people or by raising prices,” Smythe said.

Owner Todd Brooks of Brooks Burgers agrees that businesses have to make up the difference somewhere.

“The pandemic’s been absolutely awful,” Brooks said.

Brooks says his business and many others have been treading water because of the pandemic, and the raise in the minimum wage to $15 dollars over the next several years is just one more hit.

“The businesses are on such a tight margin right now anyways,” Brooks said.

But, ultimately, he’s not against the change and recognizes the need for it. According to data from Collier County, those in low and moderate-income housing spend at least 30% of their income on housing.

“People need to pay their bills,” Brooks said. “I don’t think it’s a bad thing.”

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