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Rents pricing out minimum-wage workers across the US, report says

14 June 2018

The report estimates that renters nationally make an average of $16.88 an hour. In 2016, 48 percent of Cleveland renters were cost burdened. When looking at the most common jobs for Ohioans, only two of the 10 offer a livable wage for employers.

Minimum wage earners can no longer afford rent on a two-bedroom apartment anywhere in the country. The national housing wage is $22.10 for a two-bedroom and $17.90 for a one-bedroom rental. Seven of the ten jobs expected to grow the most over the next decade pay less than the amount needed to afford a one-bedroom or two-bedroom apartment, according to the report. A new study released Wednesday by the National Low Income Housing Coalition will only add more urgency to those discussions.

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.

The report calculates how much income renters need to earn in order to afford an apartment without spending more than 30 percent of their income on housing, the generally accepted standard for affordability. The report uses the minimum wage, mean renter wage, and the Department of Housing and Urban Development's definition of fair market rent. In Kauai County, it's $29.06 and in Maui County, it's $31.13. In Seattle, the minimum wage now ranges from $11.50 to $15 an hour depending on the size of the employer and benefits offered.

Anyone making that amount would have to work triple shifts of 119 hours a week for a 2-bedroom apartment.

The Aloha State also had the biggest shortfall between that target wage and the wage paid to the average renter.

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 national "housing wage" for a two-bedroom is $22.50. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., said in the report. Almost 11 million extremely low-income families pay more than half their incomes on rent. "That leaves precious little for other essentials".

Meanwhile, the Trump administration has tried cutting federal housing subsidies for the lowest-income Americans.

According to the Joint Center for Housing Studies (2017), the number of homes renting for $2,000 or more per month increased by 97% between 2005 and 2015 with the new development of high-end apartments and rising rents of existing apartments. It's hard to praise Cleveland for its affordability when there are an average of 12 evictions every single day and an enormous waiting list for housing vouchers through CMHA. That's considered the "housing wage", at which renters can afford to live somewhat comfortably. After 40 years, the Cleveland Tenants association folded due to a lack of funding, leaving low-income renters without an organization specifically working to educate tenants and landlords, empower the community, and advocate for affordable, fair, and quality rental housing.

Rents pricing out minimum-wage workers across the US, report says