Report Finds Rents Out of Reach for Low-Income Renters
There are 31 affordable housing units available for every 100 extremely low-income renter households, according to The National Low Income Housing Coalition, which recently released its "Out of Reach" annual report. According to the report, there were over 40 million renter households in the U.S. in 2012, making up 35 percent of all households nationwide. This is a 1.1 million increase over the previous year and double the rate of growth in previous decades. In addition, one in every four of these renter households are extremely low income, meaning they earn less than 30 percent of the area median income. The report found that the population of extremely low-income renters has risen to 10.2 million, and these are the households that experience the greatest housing instability and risk of homelessness.
The report also calculated and compared wages in every county. An individual needs to earn $18.92 an hour to afford a two-bedroom rental at HUD-estimated Fair Market Rent. This wage is referred to as the “Housing Wage.” This wage allows the individual to spend no more than 30 percent of income on housing costs. The report finds that today’s national average Housing Wage is more than two-and-a-half times the federal minimum wage, and 52 percent higher than it was in 2000.
At the current federal minimum wage of $7.25, the report calculated that it would take more than two people working full-time minimum wage jobs to afford a decent two-bedroom rental home for their family. Even if the federal minimum wage was raised to $10.10 per hour, as proposed by the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013, the 2014 two-bedroom Housing Wage would remain higher, and therefore, rent would remain unaffordable, in every state. Only in Arkansas, Kentucky, and Puerto Rico is the 2014 one-bedroom Housing Wage less than $10.10.
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