Arthur J. Villasanta – Fourth Estate Contributor
Washington, Dc, United States (4E) – The American minimum-wage worker is so underpaid he can’t afford to rent a modest, two-bedroom apartment in any state in the United States.
This distressing finding contained in the new annual report by the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) also found that even with the recent rise in wages for some of the lowest-paid workers, there is still nowhere in the USA where someone working a full-time minimum-wage job can afford to rent a modest two-bedroom apartment. Even the $15 living wage championed by Democrats won’t allow minimum-wage earners to rent an apartment in the vast majority of states.
NLIHC educates, organizes and advocates to ensure decent, affordable housing for everyone. Its goals are to preserve existing federally assisted homes and housing resources; expand the supply of low income housing, and establish housing stability as the primary purpose of federal low income housing policy.
“The housing crisis is growing, especially for the lowest-income workers,” said NLIHC president Diane Yentel. “The rents are far out of reach from what the average renter is earning.”
NLIHC reported this is true even in Arkansas, the state with the cheapest housing in the country. In Arkansas, a minimum-wage worker needs to earn $13.84 an hour — $29,000 a year — to afford a two-bedroom apartment. The minimum wage in Arkansas is only $8.50 an hour.
In Hawaii, the state with the most expensive housing, a worker needs to earn $36.13 an hour — $75,000 a year — to afford a decent two-bedroom apartment. The minimum wage in Hawaii rose to $10.10 an hour this year.
The rent picture for low income earners is a lot worse in many cities. San Francisco, Marin and San Mateo counties top the list of most expensive areas because a worker needs to earn $60.02 an hour to afford a modest two-bedroom apartment.
NLIHC said a one-bedroom apartment is affordable for minimum-wage workers in only 22 counties in five states: Arizona, California, Colorado, Oregon and Washington. Those states all set their minimum wages higher than the federal minimum of $7.25.
Nationally, a worker has to earn $17.90 an hour to afford a modest one-bedroom apartment or $22.10 an hour for a two-bedroom rental. That’s based on the common budgeting standard of spending a maximum of 30 percent of income on housing.
The report estimates that renters nationally make an average of $16.88 an hour. That means even those making above minimum wage struggle to afford rent.
The low-wage workforce is projected to grow over the next decade, especially in service-sector jobs such as personal-care aides and food-preparation workers.
Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson recently proposed tripling rent for the poorest households and making it easier for housing authorities to impose work requirements on those receiving rent subsidies.
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