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National Housing Wage
By Charlene Muhammad, Contributing Writer
Published June 15, 2017

Though California has the third highest housing wage in the country, a modest 2-bedroom rental is out of reach for most workers, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

“Out of Reach: The High Cost of Housing,” the organization’s report released on June 8, indicates Californians must earn at least $30.92 an hour to afford a 2-bedroom rental home. However, the average renter earns $20.66, and the average minimum wage is $10.50.

Fair market rent for a 1-bedroom is $1,261 a month, and $1,608 for a 2-bedroom, according to the report.

U.S. Representative Keith Ellison (D-MN) wrote the preface of this year’s Out of Reach. In his state, Minnesota—which ranks as the 21st most expensive state on the list—the two-bedroom Housing Wage is $18.60, $4.32 higher than the average renter’s wage in the state, reported the NLIHC.

“That difference means too many families must choose between paying for their shelter and buying diapers, fresh food, childcare, or medicine,” said Ellison. “These choices are only necessary because our most vulnerable communities are being held hostage by budget cuts to much-needed housing assistance and programs that are already underfunded and scarce, are being targeted by additional cuts in favor for tax breaks for the wealthy. This practice has got to stop,” he stated.

NLIHC advocates for solutions like the United for Homes campaign and Ellison’s “Common Sense Housing Investment Act” (H.R. 948), a NLIHC press release stated. Both call for modest reforms to the mortgage interest deduction (that would largely benefit wealthier homeowners), and generating billions of dollars in savings to reinvest in affordable rental housing programs.

Nationally, on average a full-time worker in the United States must earn $21.21 per hour to afford a modest two-bedroom apartment and $17.14 to afford a one-bedroom apartment, according to the report.

“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,” “Out of Reach” authors indicated.

“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,” they continued.

According to “Out of Reach,” Hawaii and the District of Columbia ranked higher than California with two-bedroom housing wages of $35.20 and $33.58, respectively.

Maryland trailed California with a two-bedroom Housing Wage of $28.27, followed by New York with $28.08.

“Out of Reach 2017 shows why millions of low income renters are struggling to afford their homes,” stated Diane Yentel, NLIHC president and CEO.

“We have the resources to solve the affordable housing crisis in America by rebalancing federal housing expenditures to serve our country’s most vulnerable households. We lack only the political will to do so,” Yentel said.

Categories: Economy | National | News (Business)
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