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Study: Regular Folks Cannot Afford The Rent


A full-time minimum wage worker cannot afford a two-bedroom rental apartment anywhere in the U.S. despite the increase in state and city minimum wages, according to report from the National Low Income Housing Coalition or NLIHC.

The NLIHC's "Out of Reach" 2018 annual report calculates the gap between wages and the costs of rental housing across the U.S.

The report's housing wage is an estimate of the hourly wage a full-time worker must earn to afford a rental home at the Housing and Urban Development or HUD's fair market rent (FMR) without spending more than 30 percent of his income on housing costs.

According to the NLIHC report, the hourly wage required in 2018 to afford a typical, modest two-bedroom rental nationwide is $22.10, up from the $21.21 estimate a year earlier. For a modest one-bedroom rental home, the national housing wage is currently $17.90.

The NLIHC estimates that an average renter's hourly wage in the U.S. is $16.88, which is $5.22 below the two-bedroom housing wage and $1.02 below the one-bedroom housing wage. This implies that the average affordable rental housing is not within an average renter's financial reach.

A full-time worker earning the federal minimum wage of $7.25 needs to work about 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 FMR.

In a preface to the report, Senator Bernie Sanders wrote, "In America today, nearly 11 million families pay more than half of their limited incomes toward rent and utilities. 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."

In order to close the housing-wage gap, he urged for the minimum wage to be raised to at least $15 an hour, so that no full-time worker lives in poverty.

Hawaii ranks as the most expensive state for a two-bedroom apartment with the housing wage required to afford a two-bedroom rental home standing at $36.13, followed by California with $32.68 and New York with $30.03. Washington stood in eight position.

The report recommends federal investments in programs like public housing, housing choice vouchers, project-based rental assistance and other federal rental housing programs serving the lowest income households.

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