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Whatcom’s Habitat for Humanity paying $15 an hour to employees

Habitat for Humanity of Whatcom County will pay its thrift store employees $15 an hour, what the organization considers a “living wage.” The wage requires more sales, which also results in more money to build houses like this Bellingham one that was under construction in December 2012.
Habitat for Humanity of Whatcom County will pay its thrift store employees $15 an hour, what the organization considers a “living wage.” The wage requires more sales, which also results in more money to build houses like this Bellingham one that was under construction in December 2012. The Bellingham Herald

In keeping with its mission to eliminate poverty, Habitat for Humanity in Whatcom County has started paying its employees $15 an hour, well above the state minimum wage.

Approved by its board of directors last August, the nonprofit organization has reached a sales and donation level to start paying its 14 non-probationary employees what the organization considers a living wage. It operates a Habitat for Humanity store at 1825 Cornwall Ave., near Bellingham High School. The store accepts and sells new and gently used household and construction items.

“It seems disingenuous to fight against poverty but pay poverty wages,” said Executive Director John Moon in a news release.

The decision to pay $15 an hour to employees is already having a positive impact on the organization’s goal to build homes, said Holly Harkener, a publicist for Habitat for Humanity in Whatcom County. To pay those wages, the store needs to maintain a certain sales level. The employees know this and are highly motivated to succeed by providing high-quality customer service.

“When the store performs well, we can put that (income) into building more homes for our community,” Harkener said.

For details about the organization, visit hfhwhatcom.org.

Dave Gallagher: 360-715-2269, @BhamHeraldBiz

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