Published: Fri, June 15, 2018
Markets | By Otis Pena

Minimum wage doesn't pay the rent anywhere

Minimum wage doesn't pay the rent anywhere

"Make no mistake: while the housing market may have recovered for many, we are nonetheless experiencing an affordable housing crisis, especially for low-income families", Sen.

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. The national housing wage is $22.10 for a two-bedroom and $17.90 for a one-bedroom rental.

Erhard Mahnke, coordinator of the Vermont Affordable Housing Coalition, said that those statistics show that although unemployment in Vermont has decreased in the past few years, most of the jobs created have been "lower wage, service sector jobs".

The number of renters has increased by almost 10 million since 2005, but most new rental construction over the past ten years has been geared toward the high end of the rental market.

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.

Massachusetts, where the minimum wage is $11 an hour, ranks as the sixth most expensive state, with a wage of $28.64 needed to afford a two-bedroom apartment ($59,571 a year).

"The good news about the housing crisis is that we have the data, the solutions and the resources needed to solve it", says Diane Yentel, president and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

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Renters across the country earn an average hourly rate of $16.88, the report estimated, a finding that illustrates how even folks earning more than the minimum wage scramble to pay for housing.

Lastly, Hawaii, the state with the most expensive housing: The minimum wage there is $10.10, and the housing wage for a one-bedroom apartment is $27.44.

Their "housing wage" is an estimate of the hourly wage a full-time worker must earn to pay fair market rent without spending more than 30% of his or her income on housing costs. 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.

Increasing Vermont's minimum wage would be way to help lower income workers afford rent, Mahnke said. The city is one of many now buckling under rising housing costs, Seattle's having been propelled in part by the same corporations that fought against the tax. The housing wage for a one-bedroom apartment there is $14.64. During the same time, the number of homes renting for less than $800 declined by 2%.

The fair market rent for a two-bedroom unit in New Orleans is about $964.

Any talk of housing, from government officials to developers to landlords, touches on affordability.

Two condos for sale by the Champlain Housing Trust in the Colchester Ethan Allen complex, shown on the trust's website as examples of affordable housing available in VT. Predictably, the statewide figures are lower if you only look at non-metro areas.

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