An Amazon Worker Says She's Homeless Because She Can't Afford NYC Rent With the $19 She's Paid Per Hour: Report
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An Amazon employee who works at the company's warehouse on Staten Island in New York City said she lives in her car in the building's parking lot because she can't afford rent in the city with the $19.30 she makes per hour, Vice News reported on Friday.
The woman, Natalie Monarrez, 51, has been homeless since 2019 after struggling to find affordable permanent housing while working for two other Amazon warehouses in New Jersey that paid her even less, Vice reported.
"Jeff Bezos donates to homeless shelters for tax write-offs and PR. He needs to know that some of his own workers (without family or a second income) can't afford rent," Monarrez told Vice.
"Jeff Bezos has no idea that his workers are homeless, especially in New York, and I'm not the only one. I'm hoping executives will agree to pay workers more and that they know older workers have the right to be promoted like everyone else," she added.
While rents in New York City have fallen about 12 percent since the onset of the pandemic, it remains one of the most expensive places to live in the country. The median asking rent for a one-bedroom in New York City in June was about $2,500, a Zumper analysis found.
Amazon did not respond to Insider's request for comment on this story.
Amazon has frequently touted its $15-per-hour minimum wage, which it introduced in 2018 following pressure from Sen. Bernie Sanders, as evidence that it treats workers well.
But Bloomberg reported in December that in 68 counties where Amazon opened its largest type of warehouse, average industry pay dropped by 6%, and that a study from the Government Accountability Office found that more than 4,000 Amazon employees across nine states are on food stamps — trailing only Walmart, McDonald's, and two-dollar store chains. Amazon disputed Bloomberg's analysis, telling the publication that most of its hires come from retail jobs that typically pay less than warehouse jobs.
Amazon has also avoided paying taxes that fund food stamps and other social-safety-net programs from which its workers benefit.
Despite earning more than $10 billion in annual net income every year since 2018, Amazon paid little or no federal income taxes in those years. Amazon previously told Insider that it pays all the taxes it's required to pay in the US and every country where it operates.
CEO Jeff Bezos, despite growing his wealth by $127 billion from 2006 to 2018, paid zero federal income taxes in at least two of those years, ProPublica reported.
In April, Bezos said the company was working "to do a better job" for its employees, and that it would invest over $300 million in 2021 to make warehouses safer. He added that the company needed "a better vision" for how it creates value for its employees — "a vision for their success."
Last year, workers spoke out repeatedly about what they said was Amazon's failure to protect them during the pandemic — and in some cases, faced racially charged smear campaigns and illegal retaliation and terminations.
Following an unsuccessful attempt by Amazon workers in Alabama to unionize, workers at Monarrez's warehouse, which Amazon calls JFK8, have also sought to unionize. Chris Smalls, an organizer the company fired in March 2020, is leading the effort.