Rents pricing out minimum-wage workers across the US, report says

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Even in the state with the cheapest housing, Arkansas, an individual would need to earn $13.84 an hour to afford a two-bedroom apartment.

Nationally, one would have to earn $17.90 an hour to afford a modest one-bedroom apartment or $22.10 an hour for a two-bedroom rental.

A new study published by the National Low Income Housing Coalition shows that OH workers would need to make nearly double the minimum wage to rent a two-bedroom apartment.

They would need to earn as much as an additional $8 an hour to rent in some of city's most in-demand neighborhoods, such as the Garden District or Uptown.

The county's "housing wage", or the amount you'd need to make per hour to spend no more than 30% of your income on rent, is $38.73 an hour. Louisiana's statewide wage, $16.63 hourly, was ranked the 29th most expensive in the U.S. For someone in need of a two-bedroom, like a single parent with a child, that jumps up to 93 hours per week.

The economy's booming. Some states have raised minimum wages. Still, the results are bleak.

In Ohio, the fair market rent (FMR) for a two-bedroom apartment is $793. In Seattle, a worker making the mean wage would have to put in 49 hours for a one-bedroom and 60 hours for a two-bedroom. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., said in the report. Almost 11 million extremely low-income families pay more than half their incomes on rent. "That leaves precious little for other essentials".

A map included in the report shows the rent necessary in each state to afford a two-bedroom home
A map included in the report shows the rent necessary in each state to afford a two-bedroom home. Credit National Low Income Housing Coalition

Downsizing to a one-bedroom apartment will only help so much. Among those jobs: personal care aides and food preparation jobs. The three occupations with the greatest projected growth that pay a median wage higher than the housing wage are general operations managers, software developers and registered nurses.

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.

Meanwhile, the housing market is failing to meet the needs of the lowest income renters. During the same time, the number of homes renting for less than $800 declined by 2%. "Building that political will take a combination of increased civic engagement-to ensure that low-income renters vote at similar rates as higher income homeowners - and expanded coalitions that include the health, education, civil rights and faith-based communities, all of which have a stake in ensuring more people are affordably housed".

Affordable housing is a big challenge.

Data on fair market rents and incomes come from HUD.

"This new national report confirms what we all know: Hawai'i is facing the worst affordable housing crisis in the country", said Gavin Thornton, co-director of the Hawai'i Appleseed Center for Law and Economic Justice.

High housing costs in Colorado and across the country have been putting the pinch on renters and prospective home buyers for some time.

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