The National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) has announced the release of Out of Reach 2017: The High Cost of Housing. This report reveals that on average a full-time worker in the U.S. must earn $21.21 per hour to afford a modest two-bedroom apartment and $17.14 to afford a one-bedroom apartment. The report indicates that housing costs are "out of reach" for both for the average renter and for millions of low-wage workers, seniors and people with disabilities living on fixed incomes, and other low-income households.
Out of Reach reports on the Housing Wage – the hourly wage a full-time worker must earn to afford a modest rental home without spending more than 30% of his or her income on housing costs – for every state, county, and metropolitan area in the country. The average hourly wage of renters in the U.S. is $16.38, $4.83 lower than the two-bedroom Housing Wage and nearly $1 lower than for the one-bedroom Housing Wage.
In no state, even those where the minimum wage has been set above the federal level, can a minimum wage renter working a 40-hour work week afford a modest two-bedroom rental unit. A worker earning the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour would need to work 117 hours per week for 52 weeks of the year (or nearly 3 full-time jobs) to afford a modest two-bedroom rental home and 94.5 hours per week (2.4 full time jobs) to afford a modest one-bedroom apartment.
U.S. Representative Keith Ellison (D-MN) wrote the preface for this year’s report and was a guest speaker on a call to announce the launch of the report to the press.
The disparity between the Housing Wage needed to afford a rental home and workers’ wages results in a shortage of 7.4 million rental homes nationwide that are affordable and available to extremely low income households, underscoring the need for greater investments in affordable housing solutions.