Average worker can't afford 2-bedroom apartment anywhere in USA, report says

A report from the National Low Income Housing Coalition finds a person in Idaho would need to be making around $15 an hour to afford the rent for a two-bedroom home. The minimum wage in Idaho is $7.25 an hour. The report finds renters in the Gem State

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. Nationally, someone would need to make $17.90 an hour to rent a modest one-bedroom or $22.10 an hour to cover a two-bedroom place.

But even with recent wage growth for the lowest-paid workers, there is still nowhere in the country where someone working a full-time minimum-wage job could afford to rent a modest two-bedroom apartment, according to an annual report released Wednesday by the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

The average renter in Hawai'i earns $16.16 per hour, or $19.98 less than the "housing wage".

The cheapest housing in the US can be found in Arkansas, where the minimum wage is $8.50 an hour.

Anyone making that amount would have to work triple shifts of 119 hours a week for a 2-bedroom apartment. Still, the results are bleak. The hourly wage necessary to afford a two-bedroom unit in Hawaii County is $25.42. San Francisco, Marin and San Mateo counties top the list of most expensive jurisdictions, where one would need to make $60.02 an hour to afford a modest two-bedroom apartment.

The report recommends federal investments in programs like public housing, vouchers, and rental assistance. "That leaves precious little for other essentials, like food, transportation and health care-much less a few extra dollars to take your kid to see a movie".

A map included in the report shows the rent necessary in each state to afford a two-bedroom home
A map included in the report shows the rent necessary in each state to afford a two-bedroom home. Credit National Low Income Housing Coalition

"Low-wage work is expected to grow", the report reads.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics says the biggest increase will be with personal care aides.

The number of renters has increased by almost 10 million since 2005, but most new rental construction over the past ten years has been geared toward the high end of the rental market. "The administration's cruel and shortsighted proposals to cut housing benefits would add to the struggles of millions". During the same time, the number of homes renting for less than $800 declined by 2%. It's hard to praise Cleveland for its affordability when there are an average of 12 evictions every single day and an enormous waiting list for housing vouchers through CMHA.

The report also questions "filtering", the idea that if developers just keep building enough market-rate housing, that housing will eventually become affordable for low-income people. But this process, known as filtering, does not produce enough affordable rental homes to serve extremely low income renters. 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.

High housing costs in Colorado and across the country have been putting the pinch on renters and prospective home buyers for some time.

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