Mixed reactions to D.C.’s minimum wage hike

Ken Martin sells the newspaper Street Sense in Tenleytown on Wisconsin Avenue

Ken Martin sells the newspaper Street Sense in Tenleytown on Wisconsin Avenue. Photo credit: Kyla Jackson.

Jacqueline Davis shopped at a CVS in Tenleytown, where one-bedroom apartments can fetch $300,000 and single-family homes go for more than $1 million.

A longtime District resident, Davis, 66, worries for low-income residents who may not be able to afford staying in the city. She agrees with the D.C. City Council’s decision this summer to hike the minimum wage to $15 an hour.

“I feel very good about it,” Davis said.

In June, the City Council voted to raise the minimum wage from its current $11.50 to $15 an hour by 2020 for non-tipped workers. People interviewed this week in Tenleytown expressed mixed reactions to the increase, with some saying it’s necessary in a city where the cost of living is increasing and others saying they fear prices may go up as a result.

Victoria Alukpe, 21, a political science major at American University, said no one can survive on minimum wage. She feels the increase will help people match their pay checks with what they pay for.

“Everyone is working to survive,” Alukpe said.

Through her studies in political science, Alukpe has come to support the idea of a higher minimum wage, joining many District residents and workers who agree with the minimum wage increase.

D.C. living does come with a hefty price tag.

Zillow.com statistics note that the price for a one-bedroom home in D.C. in 2016 sold for an average $370,000. That’s been steadily on the rise and is expected to continue going up. Five years ago, the average one-bedroom cost $319,000.

Transit costs also add to a low-wage worker’s monthly bill. Metro riders can expect to pay $237 for a 28-day pass, according to the WMATA website.

Ken Martin, 62, a D.C. hat vendor who was offering the Street Sense newspaper outside CVS on Wisconsin Avenue, has a different take on the minimum wage.

“The whole thing is just wacko,” Martin said.

Martin disagrees with the minimum wage increase. He feels it will also raise the cost of living and minimum-wage workers won’t get ahead as promised.

“People just don’t do the math,” Martin said. “Everybody wants more money, but they don’t realize that more money is not enough money.”