Minimum-Wage Earners Can't Afford 2-Bedroom Rentals in U.S.
- Merle Christensen
"A full-time worker earning the federal minimum wage of $7.25 needs to work approximately 122 hours per week for all 52 weeks of the year, or approximately three full-time jobs, to afford a two-bedroom rental home at the national average fair market rent", the report said.
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.
Meanwhile, Hawai'i's minimum wage is set at $10.10 per hour, with no future increases scheduled.
Even the $15 living wage championed by Democrats would not make a dent in the vast majority of states. The hourly wage necessary to afford a two-bedroom unit in Hawaii County is $25.42.
Low wages are compounded by a shortage in federal housing assistance. In Seattle, the minimum wage now ranges from $11.50 to $15 an hour depending on the size of the employer and benefits offered. This year's findings demonstrate how far out of reach modestly priced housing is for the growing low-wage work force, despite recent wage growth, and for other vulnerable populations across the country.
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The housing wage for a one-bedroom apartment in Washington is $21.65. Hawaii comes out as the most expensive state, where the fair market rental price for a one-bedroom home is more than $1,400 a month, but the average renter takes home $840 in that same time. Six-figure salaries considered low income in some Bay Area countiesThat's according to a study by the National Low Income Housing Coalition, an affordable housing advocacy group. It shows residents would need to earn at least $27 an hour to live in the code area that includes the Lower Garden District, much of the Central Business District and part of the Garden District, for example, while they'd need about $19.42 hourly to live in the ZIP code that includes the Lower 9th Ward, Holy Cross, Bywater and parts of Marigny and the Upper 9th Ward. To define "affordability", it uses the industry standard of spending no more than 30 percent of income on rent.
Anyone making that amount would have to work triple shifts of 119 hours a week for a 2-bedroom apartment.
"The housing crisis has reached historic heights, most negatively impacting the lowest income renters", said Diane Yentel, the coalition's CEO". The number of homes renting for $2,000 or more per month almost doubled between 2005 and 2015.
But rather than cutting assistance, the report says, the government should continue to invest in housing programs that help the lowest-income households. Bernie Sanders wrote in the report's preface.
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.