Out of Reach 2014 reveals roots of housing instability and homelessness, and national need for more affordable housing
According to Out of Reach 2014, a report released today by the National Low Income Housing Coalition, an individual needs to earn $18.92 an hour to afford a two-bedroom rental until at Fair Market Rent. This figure is referred to as the “Housing Wage.” Today’s national average Housing Wage is more than two-and-a-half times the federal minimum wage, and 52% higher than it was in 2000.
Out of Reach 2014 reveals the drastic difference between what renters need to earn to afford rent and what the average renter actually earns. In 2014, the mean renter wage, or what the average American renter earned, is $14.64 an hour. While housing costs vary nationwide, Out of Reach 2014 finds that in no state can a full-time minimum wage worker afford a one-bedroom or a two-bedroom rental unit at the Fair Market Rent.
There are significant differences between the national Housing Wage of $18.92 and state and county Housing Wages, as well as between metropolitan and non-metropolitan areas, all of which are available in the full Out of Reach 2014 report.
According to Out of Reach 2014, the top five most expensive states are:
• Hawaii, with a Two-Bedroom Housing Wage of $31.54.
• District of Columbia, with a Two-Bedroom Housing Wage of $28.25.
• California, with a Two-Bedroom Housing Wage of $26.04.
• Maryland, with a Two-Bedroom Housing Wage of $24.94.
• New Jersey, with a Two-Bedroom Housing Wage of $24.92.
New York, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Alaska, and Virginia finish out the list of top 10 most expensive states in 2014.
The most expensive metropolitan area in 2014 is San Francisco, CA, where an individual needs to earn $37.62 an hour to afford a decent two-bedroom rental unit at Fair Market Rent.
At the current federal minimum wage of $7.25, Out of Reach 2014 calculated that it would take more than two people working full-time minimum wage jobs to afford a decent two-bedroom rental home for their family. Even if the federal minimum wage was raised to $10.10 per hour, as proposed by the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2013, the 2014 two-bedroom Housing Wage would remain higher, and thereby rent would remain unaffordable, in every state. Only in Arkansas, Kentucky, and Puerto Rico is the 2014 one-bedroom Housing Wage less than $10.10.
”We fully support increased wages, as well as improving the tax code to be fairer. Raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour would benefit millions of low income Americans; however, it unfortunately would an insufficient response to America’s housing affordability crisis,” said NLIHC President and CEO Sheila Crowley. “Increasing the stock of affordable housing is a critical part to addressing the extreme shortage of affordable housing in America.”
There were over 40 million renter households in the U.S. in 2012, making up 35% of all households nationwide. This is a 1.1 million increase over the previous year and double the rate of growth in previous decades. One in every four of these renter households are extremely low income, meaning they earn less than 30% of the area median income.
The population of extremely low income renters has risen to 10.2 million, and these are the households that experience the greatest housing instability and risk of homelessness. NLIHC calculates that there are just 31 affordable and available units for every 100 extremely low income renter households.
“Housing America’s lowest income people remains our top priority,” said Crowley. “We can no longer ignore the dire need for affordable housing when three out of every four extremely low income households have to spend more than half of their income on housing costs. Closing this gap is achievable through the National Housing Trust Fund.”
The National Low Income Housing Coalition concludes that the strongest solution to the affordable housing crisis is the National Housing Trust Fund. Once funded, the National Housing Trust Fund will provide communities with funds to build, preserve, and rehabilitate rental homes that are affordable for extremely and very low income households.
Extensive data for every state, metropolitan area, and county in the country are available online at www.nlihc.org/oor/2014.