Published: Sun, June 17, 2018
Money | By Hannah Jacobs

Housing dire for low-wage earners

Housing dire for low-wage earners

Nationally, a person earning the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour would need to work 122 hours a week to afford a two-bedroom unit at fair market rate.

People in San Francisco need to make more than four times the city's minimum wage to afford a modest two-bedroom apartment. In the Oakland metropolitan area, which includes Alameda and Contra Costa counties, renters earn an average of $22 an hour - much more than Oakland's $13.23 minimum wage.

According to the study, low-wage work is expected to grow over the next 10 years, but seven of the ten occupations are expected to provide a median wage that is lower than the housing wage. To afford a two-bedroom apartment, you'd need to make more than $60 an hour. According to the new report, minimum wage workers in Washington have to work 93 hours a week to afford a two-bedroom home. That's about three times the federal minimum wage.

"Families across Idaho are finding that costs for modestly priced homes are simply eating up more and more of their paycheck", Alejandra Cerna Rios says.

"If they need something less than $500 it's nearly impossible and a lot of those properties that are available are very unhealthy, unstable and no one would really want to live there if they could avoid it, but that's the reality", she told us. That's especially true for Americans working minimum-wage jobs who rent a home. However, the report's authors cautioned against thinking that increasing minimum wage would be a "silver bullet solution". "They need to do a revision", said Tillman.

The economy's booming. Some states have raised minimum wages. It affects about 9,000 people. "Without assistance, the gap between what low-wage jobs earn and what rental housing costs here is simply unbridgeable". That means a minimum wage worker would have to hold 1.9 jobs to make the rent on a two-bedroom apartment and 1.5 jobs for a one-bedroom apartment. The FMR price for a two-bedroom apartment in the area is $695 per month. Workers there have to earn $60.02 an hour on average to live in a 2-bedroom rental. Williamson County is the second highest in the Midstate at $15.43 per hour. Over the past decade, construction of new rental units has been geared toward the high end of the market.

In Hawaii, the state with the most expensive housing, the report found that the cost of renting a modest two-bedroom would require being paid $36.13 per hour. Almost 11 million extremely low-income families pay more than half their incomes on rent. Among those jobs: personal care aides and food preparation jobs.

According to the Joint Center for Housing Studies (2017), the number of homes renting for $2,000 or more per month increased by 97% between 2005 and 2015 with the new development of high-end apartments and rising rents of existing apartments.

The authors also express concern that the Trump administration's decision to cut housing subsidies will exacerbate the problem.

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