A new report from the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) finds that there are only 22 counties in the United States where a one-bedroom home is affordable to someone working 40 hours per week at federal minimum wage, reports CityLab writer Tanvi Misra.
For people earning minimum wage, the situation is untenable. At $7.25 an hour, they would need to put in roughly 122 hours per week, every week of the year—or magically, work 3 full-time jobs—to afford a two-bedroom home at the national average fair market rent; for a one-bedroom, they would need to put in 99-hour weeks, or the equivalent of two and a half full-time jobs. (Fair Market Rent is an annually updated government estimate, typically the 40th percentile of the gross rent in an area.) But this isn’t just a problem for the poor. NLIHC estimates that the average renter’s hourly wage in the United States is $16.88. The average renter in each county makes enough to afford a two-bedroom in only 11 percent of U.S. counties, and a one-bedroom, in only 43 percent.
The national “housing wage” in 2018 is $22.10 for a modest two-bedroom rental home and $17.90 for a one-bedroom, the report estimates. (That’s how much an average renter in the U.S. would need to make to afford a modest apartment at fair market rent, without paying more than 30 percent of their income towards housing.)* Of course, there's widespread geographical discrepancy in rents and wages across the country. You'd need to earn $60.02 to reasonably afford a two-bedroom in San Francisco, California, but in Little Rock, Arkansas, it's about $15.60. Still, in not a single state, city, or county can someone earning federal or state minimum wage for a 40-hour work week afford to rent a two-bedroom home at fair market rent.Read More