Affordable Housing
The most common theme heard on our tours...
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry
and bring the homeless poor into your house;
Isaiah 58:7

Housing is a basic human need and should be regarded as an unconditional human right. The wave of unemployment in 2020 and 2021 underscores that access to decent, stable housing should not be conditioned on one’s wages or work status.

Most Americans who rely on just their full-time job earnings at the federal minimum wage ($7.25 an hour) cannot afford the rent and utilities on a one or two-bedroom apartment.

A full-time worker earning the federal minimum wage of $7.25 needs to work approximately 97 hours per week for all 52 weeks of the year, or more than two full-time jobs, to afford a two-bedroom rental home at the national average fair market rent. The same worker needs to work 79 hours per week for all 52 weeks of the year, or approximately two full-time jobs, to afford a one-bedroom home at the national average fair market rent.

Currently there is no county in the country where an individual can work 40 hours per week at the minimum wage and afford even a one-bedroom rental unit at the Fair Market Rent (FMR).

In 16 states and D.C. the 2021 Housing Wage is more than $23 per hour.

In Connecticut, a minimum wage worker earns an hourly wage of $13.00. In order to afford the FMR for a two-bedroom apartment, a minimum wage earner must work 84 hours per week, 52 weeks per year. Or, a household must include 2.3 minimum wage earner(s) working 40 hours per week year-round in order to make the two-bedroom FMR affordable.

In Connecticut, the Fair Market Rent (FMR) for a two-bedroom apartment is $1,423. In order to afford this level of rent and utilities, without paying more than 30% of income on housing, a household must earn $4,743 monthly or $56,922 annually. Assuming a 40-hour work week, 52 weeks per year, this level translates into a CT Housing Wage of $27.37.

The National average “Housing Wage” for a two-bedroom rental unit is $24.90 and the average Fair Market Rent is $1,295 a month. The annual income needed to afford a FMR of $1,295 is $51,782. The National renter wage is $18.78. The average renter needs to work more than 53 hours per week to afford the FMR of $1,295 for a two-bedroom home. An affordable monthly rent at the renters wage is $977.

In Connecticut, the estimated mean (average) wage for a renter is $18.23 an hour. In order to afford the FMR for a two-bedroom apartment at this wage, a renter must work more than 60 hours per week, 52 weeks per year.

This is according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition and outlined in its 2021 Out of Reach report.

The National Low Income Housing Coalition’s Out of Reach annual report outlines the availability of affordable apartments nationwide.
Out of Reach is a side-by-side comparison of wages and rents in every county, metropolitan area, combined non-metropolitan area, and state in the United States.

The “housing wageis the full-time hourly wage one would need to earn in order to pay what the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) estimates to be the FMR for an apartment where you live. The Coalition's "housing wage" assumes that a family spends no more than 30 percent of its gross income on rent and utilities, since the government generally considers anything more than that unaffordable.

Yet many poor Americans pay more than they can afford because wage increases have not kept up with increase in rent and utilities.

Again, this is according to the 2021 National Low Income Housing Coalition Report.

Today more than 43.8 million homes in the United States are rented. That is 36% of total households.

More than 20 million renter households live in housing poverty, meaning they cannot afford to meet their other basic needs like food, transportation, medical care, and other goods and services after they pay for their housing (NLIHC, 2020c).

The two-bedroom Housing Wage ranges from $39.03 in California to $9.72 in Puerto Rico. Connecticut's hourly wage to afford a two-bedroom apartment is $27.37.

An area’s FMR and its corresponding Housing Wage provide an indication of how expensive it is to rent there. The area with the highest rent is the most expensive, but for an idea of how affordable a particular rent is, one must look at how much renters earn in the labor force. A place may have relatively high rents, but its employment opportunities may make it more affordable than a nearby town with lower rents but fewer good paying jobs.

Updated: December 13, 2021

CT Housing Coalition