LAKE CHARLES, La. (KPLC) - A new study by the National Low Income Housing Coalition says in Louisiana, you would need to make about 17 dollars an hour to afford a two-bedroom apartment.
Ben Taylor, Director of the Housing Authority of Lake Charles says with the minimum wage here sitting at less than half that, it is near impossible to live off of. He says the ones suffering the most are those who are too poor to be rich, but too rich to be poor. They often don't qualify for aid like those in lower income brackets.
"They're the ones that are really getting hammered in the raising of rents and home prices and everything around here," Taylor said.
R.B. Smith with the SWLA Alliance says as right now, Louisiana doesn't have a set minimum wage, so it defaults to the federal wage of $7.25. Smith says with the cost of living so high, it is extraordinarily difficult to live on just that.
“Perhaps the misconception for most people is the minimum wage is a living wage and that’s never been the intent of a minimum wage. Minimum wage is the minimum number of dollars an employer could pay the employee. That doesn’t guarantee a livable wage.”
On the flip side, smith says raising the minimum wage isn't the answer. He says that would result in inflation and make matters worse.
“If we escalate to 15 dollars an hour, then what’s going to happen is when you go to a fast food place, there not going to be a dollar menu anymore,” Smith said. “That becomes a $5 menu. So what you have done for the people who don’t have any income is you separate them even further from the middle class.”
They say there is no quick solution to the problem but to work out of minimum wage.
“The more knowledge you gain, the more experience you gain from the job that you’re in should be a platform to help you obtain your next job to move you up the career ladder,” Smith said.