Sunday, 26 May, 2019

Minimum wage doesn't cover the rent anywhere in the U.S.

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Ginger Lawrence | 15 June, 2018, 01:27

Even the $15 living wage championed by Democrats would not make a dent in the vast majority of states.

The nation's costliest housing is in Hawaii, where one would need to earn $36.13, or roughly $75,000 a year, to be able to rent a modest two-bedroom.

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This is according to a new report from the National Low Income Housing Coalition, or NLIHC, which calls attention to the gap between low-income wages and the high cost of rent throughout much of the United States.

People in San Francisco need to make more than four times the city's minimum wage to afford a modest two-bedroom apartment. Diane Yentel, president and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, said in a press release that low wage workers often have to choose between paying for rent, health care, childcare, and other basic necessities. "The rents are far out of reach from what the average renter is earning". Compared to other states, Washington ranks as the eighth most expensive state for a two-bedroom apartment. A one-bedroom is affordable only with a minimum wage job in a small number of counties in Arizona, California, Colorado, Oregon, and Washington, all states that have set the minimum wage above the federal level.

Renters across the country earn an average hourly rate of $16.88, the report estimated, a finding that illustrates how even folks earning more than the minimum wage scramble to pay for housing.

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A low-income worker earning the federal minimum wage would need 2.5 jobs to afford a one-bedroom apartment. In the Boston-Cambridge-Quincy metropolitan area, that rises to $27.33.

The report, "Out of Reach", said the 2018 national housing wage is $22.10 ($45,986 annually) for a modest two-bedroom rental home and $17.90 ($37,232 annually) for a modest one-bedroom rental home.

The report's authors adhere to the standard that no household should spend more than 30 percent of its gross income on housing costs, and they assume that each household would be paid for 40-hour workweeks for 52 weeks a year. Their median hourly wage is $11.32. That means even those making above minimum wage struggle to afford rent.

Nationally, as the demand for rental housing has increased in the past decade, most rental housing being built is "geared largely toward the high end of the market, due to increasingly high development costs", according to the report.

Two condos for sale by the Champlain Housing Trust in the Colchester Ethan Allen complex, shown on the trust's website as examples of affordable housing available in VT. The number of homes renting for less than $800 declined by 2 percent. Bernie Sanders wrote in the report's preface.

Workers at the Community Services Agency, which provides housing, food and healthcare assistance to families in need, are seeing first-hand how the imbalance between wages and rent prices is impacting the Bay Area.