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Low wages, short hours drive many fast-food workers into homelessness - Los Angeles Times

When Jose de la Torre began delivering pizzas for Papa Johns in 2019, he made $15 an hour and shared a one-bedroom apartment in the Florence-Graham neighborhood with half a dozen other people.

After two years on the job, his hourly rate was the same but his work schedule had been cut — to about 30 hours a week instead of the full 40, he said. Meanwhile, his everyday living expenses had gone up. He began sleeping in his Nissan Altima, parking it near the Papa Johns in Lynwood where he worked.

“I made the choice,” De la Torre, 53, said. “It was either my car and eat, or rent.”

De la Torre’s situation is not uncommon among fast-food workers, who make up 11% of all homeless workers in California and 9% in Los Angeles County, according to a report released Tuesday by Economic Roundtable. The nonprofit research organization estimated that there are 10,120 fast-food workers in California who are homeless.

“The fast-food industry is a poverty employer, with a larger share of its workers in poverty than any other industry,” said the report, which was underwritten by the Service Employees International Union. “Raising the wage floor in this industry is the single most important step for reducing economic homelessness in the state.”

By Andrea ChangStaff Writer

May 2, 2023 12 AM PT


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