No one earning minimum wage can afford a modest apartment

Muriel Colon
June 15, 2018

Nationwide, Colorado's housing wage was 11th highest, with states such as Hawaii, Alaska, California and NY requiring a higher income to afford basic housing. That's $14.85 higher than the federal minimum wage of $7.25 and $5.22 higher than the estimated average hourly wage of $16.88 earned by renters nationwide. That means even those making above minimum wage struggle to afford rent.

"In America today, almost 11 million families pay more than half of their limited incomes toward rent and utilities", Sanders writes. Workers there have to earn $60.02 an hour on average to live in a 2-bedroom rental.

"The good news about the housing crisis is that we have the data, the solutions and the resources needed to solve it", says Diane Yentel, president and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition. In Seattle/Bellevue, it's $24 and across King County it's $25.

Housing has gotten so expensive across the country, it's completely priced out the lowest earners. Yet one would have to make $13.84 an hour, or roughly $29,000 a year, to afford a two-bedroom apartment.

Local reports have also pointed to the acute shortage of housing for very low-income renters in Charlotte. Fair Market Rent is Housing and Urban Development's best estimate of what a household seeking a modest rental home in a short amount of time can expect to pay for rent and utilities, according to the report.


"Low-wage work is expected to grow", the report reads. Among those jobs: personal care aides and food preparation jobs.

Rents are lower in more economically depressed parts of the state like Rutland and the Northeast Kingdom, but available housing can have "serious health concerns" from lead paint and mold, according to Mahnke. Eric Thomas will have more on this study starting at 4 p.m. on ABC7 News. During the same time, the number of homes renting for less than $800 declined by 2%. What's less clear is how, and when, affordable housing will be the new normal.

This is the case even in states with low rental prices.

"Rather than address the affordable housing crisis, the (Trump) administration's proposed spending cuts for FY 2019 would, if enacted, lead to the largest reduction in affordable housing and community development in decades", said the report. Landlords in weak housing markets often find the cost of upkeep is higher than the rent they are able to collect, and they therefore decide to abandon maintenance on the housing or repurpose the property. For example, this week corporations including Starbucks and Amazon successfully lobbied to have the city of Seattle repeal a corporate, $275-per-employee head tax that would have raised about $50 million dollars for services addressing homelessness and providing affordable housing.

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