Average worker can't afford 2-bedroom apartment anywhere in U.S., report says

Cornelia Mascio
Giugno 14, 2018

A one-bedroom is affordable for minimum-wage employees in all of 22 counties in just five states - Arizona, California, Colorado, Oregon and Washington.

Even the $15 hourly wage touted by labor activists would not be enough to make housing affordable in the overwhelming majority of states, the coalition found.

The report calculates how much income renters need to earn in order to afford an apartment without spending more than 30 percent of their income on housing, the generally accepted standard for affordability. In Kansas, where the state minimum wage is $7.25, you'd need to make $10.53 an hour to afford a studio. Fair Market Rent is Housing and Urban Development's best estimate of what a household seeking a modest rental home in a short amount of time can expect to pay for rent and utilities, according to the report. The number of homes renting for less than $800 declined by 2 percent.

Workers earning minimum wage would have to work 74 hours per week throughout the year to afford a two-bedroom apartment.

Calculated another way, those housing costs mean a worker making Washington's current minimum wage would need to work 75 hours a week to afford a one-bedroom apartment. The same worker would still need to work 99 hours a week every week of the year to afford a one-bedroom.

Today the National Low Income Housing Coalition released Out of Reach 2018, its latest annual report on housing costs, and well they're bad.

They would need to earn as much as an additional $8 an hour to rent in some of city's most in-demand neighborhoods, such as the Garden District or Uptown.

The economy's booming. Some states have raised minimum wages.

In Contra Costa County, where the hourly pay needed for a 2-bedroom apartment ranges from $38 in Richmond, Martinez, and Antioch, all the way up to $67 in Danville. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., said in the report.

"In America today, almost 11 million families pay more than half of their limited incomes toward rent and utilities", Sanders writes.

Out of the top 10 jobs with the highest projected growth-including medical assistants and home health aides-the median wages for seven of the jobs fall below the threshold needed to afford a one or two-bedroom. The three jobs expected to both grow and pay enough to live-general operations managers, software developers, and registered nurses-"require advanced degrees or significant experience". At the same time, new rental construction has tilted toward the luxury market because of increasingly high development costs, the report said. "The administration's cruel and shortsighted proposals to cut housing benefits would add to the struggles of millions". After 40 years, the Cleveland Tenants association folded due to a lack of funding, leaving low-income renters without an organization specifically working to educate tenants and landlords, empower the community, and advocate for affordable, fair, and quality rental housing.

Local reports have also pointed to the acute shortage of housing for very low-income renters in Charlotte.

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