Report shows that rising rents put affordability further out of reach for low-wage workers
Washington, DC – NLIHC released today its annual report, Out of Reach 2022: The High Cost of Housing, showing that low-wage workers are facing severe challenges affording housing amid record-breaking rent increases. The report highlights the mismatch between the wages people earn and the price of decent rental housing in every state, metropolitan area, and county in the U.S. The report also calculates the “Housing Wage” a full-time worker must earn to afford a rental home without spending more than 30% of their income on housing costs. This year’s national Housing Wage is $25.82 per hour for a modest two-bedroom home at fair market rent and $21.25 per hour for a modest one-bedroom home.
Temporary housing policy measures implemented amid COVID-19, including emergency rental assistance and eviction moratoriums, are coming to an end. At the same time, renters are facing record-high rental prices, putting decent and affordable homes even further out of reach. As costs for housing soar, 11 million extremely low-income renter households are facing difficult decisions about how to pay for basic necessities.
“Decades of chronic underfunding for housing assistance have resulted in a housing-lottery system, where only 25 percent of eligible households receive the housing assistance they need,” said NLIHC President and CEO Diane Yentel. “With rents rising rapidly, homelessness worsening, and millions of families struggling to stay housed, federal investments in expanding proven solutions – like Housing Choice Vouchers, the national Housing Trust Fund, and public housing – are badly needed and long overdue. As a country, we have the data, partnerships, expertise, solutions, and means to end homelessness and housing poverty – we lack only the political will to fund solutions at the scale necessary.”
Out of Reach 2022 finds that in no state, metropolitan area, or county can a full-time minimum-wage worker afford a modest two-bedroom rental home, and these workers cannot afford modest one-bedroom apartments in 91% of U.S. counties. Nationwide, rent increases have made affording and maintaining housing even more difficult for the lowest-income renters. Across the country, rents rose 18% between the first quarter of 2021 and the first quarter of 2022. These rent increases have been widespread: out of 345 metropolitan counties, all but two have seen a rise in rental prices since 2021. With rents skyrocketing and prices for goods increasing, workers may have to sacrifice necessities like food, medical services, transportation, and childcare simply to remain housed.
“As the National Low Income Housing Coalition’s annual Out of Reach report highlights, it’s long past time for our country to make meaningful investments in fair and affordable housing. In the report, NLIHC provides a vast amount of data that shows just how urgent and far-reaching our affordable housing crisis has become,” said Congresswoman Maxine Waters, Chairwoman of the House Committee on Financial Services and author of the report’s preface. “As Chairwoman, I have worked tirelessly to address our country’s affordable housing crisis that has left millions of families living on the cusp of eviction or, in worst cases, experiencing homelessness. It’s why I wrote legislation to provide $46.6 billion in emergency rental assistance, which successfully prevented over six million families from being evicted. And it is why I continue to fight every day to secure significant new investments in affordable housing, including the $150 billion that was included in the Build Back Better Act. Now, in the face of inflation and widening inequality, our nation needs these investments more than ever. So, I thank NLIHC for this research that shows just how stark that need is.”
Out of Reach 2022 shows that the gap between wages and housing costs is largest for people of color, and particularly women of color. The disparities are the result of historic and continuing racist housing policies that have led to people of color facing disproportionate challenges accessing decent and affordable homes. At the same time, Black and Latino workers earn less than white workers: the median wage for Black and Latino workers is approximately $6.00 less than that of the median white worker. Because people of color are more likely to be renters at all income levels, increasing costs within the rental market disproportionately harm these households. Among renters, 55% of Black households are cost-burdened and 53% of Latino households are cost-burdened, compared to 43% of white households. The disparities grow even starker for women of color: more than 70% of Black and Latina women earn an hourly wage that falls short of the one-bedroom Housing Wage.
As rental prices rise, evictions resume, and COVID-19 policy measures expire, low-income renters will face insurmountable hardships finding and maintaining affordable housing without significant congressional action. NLIHC and our partners across the country are calling on Congress to address the far-reaching challenges that low-income renters face in accessing safe and affordable housing. Solving the housing affordability crisis requires expanding rental assistance to all eligible renters in need while also making deep, sustained investments in the national Housing Trust Fund and public housing to create, preserve, and rehabilitate affordable homes. Congress should also create a permanent National Housing Stabilization Fund to provide temporary assistance for households at risk of eviction and strengthen and enforce renters’ protections.
Out of Reach 2022: The High Cost of Housing is available at: https://reports.nlihc.org/oor
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