Recession Pushing Rental Housing Further “Out of Reach” for Low Income Americans

What kind of income is necessary to afford a modest rental home?  According to a recent report by the National Low Income Housing Coalition, that number is $18.44 per hour or $38,360 per year.  The report highlights that rents are continuing to rise while wages stay the same or decrease across the country.  The national two-bedroom Fair Market Rent (FMR) is a $959 a month and 74% of metro renters live in an area where having two full-time jobs at the minimum wage would still not allow them to afford the two-bedroom FMR.

Other key findings from the 2010 report include:

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·    The two-bedroom Housing Wage topped $20.00 in 10 states: HI, DC, CA, MD, NJ, NY, MA, CT, AK and FL.

·     In 2010, the estimated average wage for renters in the United States is only $14.44, a decline from $14.69 in 2009.

·    At the federal minimum wage of $7.25, a household would have to work 102 hours each week to afford the nation’s average FMR for a two-bedroom home.

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·    There is no county in the United States in which a full-time minimum wage worker can afford even a one-bedroom apartment at the FMR.

“Out of Reach 2010 shows once again that prevailing incomes and wages are simply not enough to allow a family to afford a decent home in their community,” said Sheila Crowley, President of the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

“The persistence of high rates of unemployment and under-employment is making it ever more difficult for families to secure decent housing. Unfortunately, the situation is not likely to improve any time soon,” Center for Economic Policy and Research Co-Director Dean Baker said.

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“[NLIHC’s] Out of Reach annual report on rental housing affordability shows a growing need to preserve and expand the current stock of affordable rental housing,” House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said. “The hardships faced by many low income renters in an economy recovering from the recession and record foreclosures make this need all the more urgent. We are grateful for NLIHC’s efforts, and we will continue our partnership to ensure that more Americans have better access to decent and affordable rental housing.”

Extensive data for every state, metropolitan area and county in the country are available online, at www.nlihc.org/oor2010/.