Paycheck to Paycheck

Patty Smith

Many people are unable to earn a living wage in the District.  As a result, some D.C. residents are working two or three minimum wage jobs just to make ends meet – and they’re still coming up short. With bills, transportation, and food to pay for, a minimum-wage paycheck simply doesn’t guarantee housing. By living paycheck to paycheck, many people are unable to save enough money to build for the future. For countless folks in D.C., a paycheck is barely enough to survive.



“You could never make it”

Timothy Witcher describes what it takes to lead a decent life in D.C. Witcher details the only housing one could afford working low-entry jobs.


“It’s definitely very hard to live a decent life”

Marie Wills recounts how difficult it was for her to make ends meet working a minimum wage job. Wills describes being unable to get a raise at her part-time job.


“It’s a struggle”

Robert Warren talks about the difficulties associated with living paycheck to paycheck. Warren says he pays half of his salary in rent, which makes it difficult to save any money.


“The rent got hard to pay”

Jeff Taylor describes working a job for seven years without a raise in salary. Taylor recounts how the cost of living increased while his salary remained the same.


“Still got behind in rent”

Patty Smith remembers struggling to get by after her aunt died. Smith describes going to temp agencies while she was unemployed in order to practice her typing skills.


“I was frozen out of the job market”

Levester Green recalls going to Virginia in order to find work after he was unable to become employed in D.C. Green discusses the cyclical nature of temporary work.


“The jobs are not paying enough for you to live”

Jamal Francis describes becoming homeless even while working seven days a week. Francis details how the cost of living continues to increase in the District while wages remain the same.


“It’s hard”

Paul Ellis describes the various costs associated with living. Ellis notes how impossible it is to save money while working low wage jobs.


“The cost of living is exceptionally high”

Monseur Alli talks about all of the monetary pressures people face in D.C. Alli discusses how overwhelming those pressures can be, especially when making under $10 an hour.