NLIHC Hosts Virtual Hill Briefing on “Out of Reach: What State and Local Data Tell Us About Solutions to America’s Housing Crisis Before, During and After COVID-19”

NLIHC held a virtual briefing for congressional staffers on July 16 on the release of Out of Reach: The High Cost of Housing, NLIHC’s annual publication comparing rents and wages nationally and in every state, county, and metropolitan area in the country. The briefing addressed the federal response to the coronavirus pandemic and what additional supports are needed to ensure people are able to remain stably housed through the duration of the pandemic.

Senator Sherrod Brown (D-OH) offered opening remarks, and panelists included Diane Yentel, president and CEO of NLIHC; Derrick Johnson, president and CEO of the NAACP; Dan Threet, research analyst at NLIHC; Mindy Woods, a steering committee member of the Resident Action Project and NLIHC board member; Mike Koprowski, national campaign director of the Opportunity Starts at Home campaign; and Chantelle Wilkinson, housing campaign coordinator of the Opportunity Starts at Home campaign.

Out of Reach documents the "housing wage,” or the hourly wage a full-time worker must earn in order to afford a two-bedroom rental home. Findings indicate that in 2020, the national housing wage is $23.96 per hour – on average, a full-time worker must earn at least $23.96 per hour to afford a modest, two-bedroom apartment without spending more than 30% of their income on rent. Given the current federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour, a minimum wage worker would have to work 97 hours per week to reasonably afford a two-bedroom apartment. NLIHC’s other annual research publication The Gap: A Shortage of Affordable Homes, estimates the shortage of affordable housing in every state and congressional district. The report estimates a national shortage of more than 7 million affordable and available rental homes for renters with the lowest incomes. Both reports shed light on the need for investments in the preservation and construction of deeply affordable housing.

Panelists discussed the report’s implications for renters in during the coronavirus pandemic and policy solutions that can help keep low-income renters stably housed. Low-wage workers who already struggled to pay rent before the pandemic are now at greatest risk of contracting coronavirus or losing their jobs. The patchwork of federal, state, and local eviction moratoriums has provided short-term relief to some renters but left many unprotected. Renters also face a financial cliff once moratoriums are lifted and back-rent is due. Without immediate federal action, millions of renters – disproportionately, Black, Latino, and Native people – will be evicted from their homes and placed at imminent risk of homelessness.

Watch a recording of the briefing at:

Read the latest version of Out of Reach at:

Read the latest version of The Gap at: