The National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) released last week its annual Out of Reach report which documents the gap between renters’ wages and the cost of rental housing across the nation. According to the report, there is no state, metropolitan area, or county in the country where a full-time minimum wage worker can afford a modest two-bedroom rental home. Further, only in 12 counties nationwide can a full-time minimum wage worker afford a modest one-bedroom rental home.
Renters earning the average hourly wage also face affordability challenges. The report estimates that the average hourly wage of renters in the U.S. is $16.38, but would have to be $21.21 in order for those renters to afford a modest-two bedroom apartment. This gap is larger in some states (see Figure 1).
The rental affordability challenges detailed in this report are severe. According to NLIHC, the high cost of rental housing has resulted in more than 20 million renter households living in housing poverty, meaning they cannot afford other basic needs like food, transportation, and medical care after they pay for housing.
The report also cautions that these trends will worsen without significant investment in affordable housing solutions. According to NLIHC, six of the seven occupations projected to add the most jobs between 2014 and 2024 provide a median wage insufficient to afford modest housing. For example, personal care aides –expected to add 450,000 jobs during that time period– earn a median wage of $10.75 an hour, which is $10.46 per hour less than what is needed on average to afford a two-bedroom apartment (see Figure 2).
Out of Reach data are available for every state, metropolitan area, and county on NLIHC’s website.