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SF supes propose raising minimum wage to $17 for nonprofit, elderly care workers

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Najuawanda Daniels, a desk worker and an IHSS worker, marks down a resident as they leave at 666 Ellis St. on Thursday, Sept. 20, 2018. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)

Seven days a week, Najuwanda Daniels is either working behind the front desk of a nonprofit-run housing development in the Tenderloin or getting paid to care for an extended family member with Lou Gehrig’s disease.

But earning minimum wage at two different jobs is not enough for a single person to survive and make rent even at an affordable housing development in the Hunters Point Shipyard, where Daniels pays $1,121 for a one-bedroom unit.

With her 40th birthday around the corner, Daniels fears she is just one quarterly rent hike away from choosing between losing her car or her apartment.

“I have no day off,” said Daniels, a full-time clerk for the Community Housing Partnership at 666 Ellis St. and a part-time In-Home Supportive Services worker. “I’m born and raised in San Francisco, why can’t I live here?”

Daniels is just one of the more than 22,000 IHSS and nonprofit workers who are employed under contract with The City for $15 an hour. On Tuesday, supervisors Sandra Fewer and Hillary Ronen are expected to introduce a proposal that would raise their minimum wage by $.75 starting Dec. 1.

The proposed $13 million budget supplemental would cover the cost of increasing wages through June with the hope that the Board of Supervisors would soon pass legislation to raise the minimum wage for IHSS and nonprofit workers to $17 an hour by 2020-21.

The supervisors argue that IHSS workers, who help seniors and people with disabilities with basic chores like grocery shopping and laundry, are needed to keep elderly individuals in their homes and off the streets.

“San Francisco has an exploding population, and we don’t have residential facilities to take care of these seniors as they age,” Ronen said. “The only that we have to prevent more seniors from becoming homeless is IHSS workers who will be able to take care of seniors in their homes.”

There has been a 20 percent decrease in the number of residential care facilities for the elderly over the last six years, according to Fewer.

As for the nonprofits, Fewer argued that groups like the Tenderloin Housing Clinic suffer from high turnover and have a hard time attracting desk clerks and janitors because the minimum wage is so low.

“Almost every nonprofit in San Francisco has a job opening because it is so hard to hire these people,” Fewer said.

The proposal comes after legislation moved forward last week to increase the minimum wage of for-profit contract workers at the airport to $17 an hour at the Board of Supervisors Budget and Finance Committee.

That amendment to The City’s Minimum Compensation Ordinance does not include IHSS and nonprofit contract workers, who were included in the version first proposed by former Supervisor Jeff Sheehy and Supervisor Jane Kim in March 2017 but cut out because of budget concerns.

The proposed supplemental would pull $13 million from the $127 million balance in The City’s general reserve fund.

The City would still need to secure funding for the additional years, which are estimated to cost $40.04 million and $36.82 million respectively.

The proposal includes $7.23 million for the roughly 20,000 IHSS workers, $2.91 million for the over 2,000 nonprofit workers and a $2.91 million buffer to support nonprofits expected to raise wages for other workers as a result of the minimum wage increase.

“We wouldn’t bring a supplemental forward if we didn’t think it was almost in a crisis mode,” Fewer said. “We are bleeding workers.”

mbarba@sfexaminer.com

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