FWD from National Coalition for the Homeless http://www2.ari.net/home/nch/alerts.html Minimum Wage Increase BACKGROUND: The leading cause of homelessness in the United States is the inability of poor people to afford housing. Housing costs have risen significantly over the last decade, while the incomes of poor and middle-class Americans have stagnated. The millions of Americans who are unemployed or work in low-paying jobs are among the most vulnerable to becoming homeless. The connection between impoverished workers and homelessness can be seen in homeless shelters, many of which house significant numbers of full-time wage earners. The U.S. Conference of Mayors 1996 survey of 29 U.S. cities found that almost one out of five homeless persons is employed in full- or part-time jobs. Senator Edward Kennedy (D-MA) has introduced legislation, The American Family Fair Minimum Wage Act (S. 1009), to increase the minimum wage by 50 cents an hour in each of the next three years, and by 30 cents an hour in each of the following two years. Under this bill, the minimum wage would increase from $5.65 an hour to $7.25 an hour by 2002. While this new wage would still be insufficient to cover the costs of housing in many communities (see the new report, "Out of Reach," by the National Low Income Housing Coalition), it is a step in the right direction. RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please call your Senators and urge them to support this critical legislation. All Members of Congress may be reached through the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121.