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
  

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. 

The number of hours a household must work ranges from 44 to 124 hours each week or 1.3 (Puerto Rico) to 4.0 (Hawaii) full-time jobs. 

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 14 states and D.C. the 2016 Housing Wage is more than $21 per hour.
 

In Connecticut, a minimum wage worker earns an hourly wage of $9.60.  In order to afford the FMR for a two-bedroom apartment, a minimum wage earner must work 103 hours per week, 52 weeks per year. Or, a household must include 2.6 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 $1,285. In order to afford this level of rent and utilities, without paying more than 30% of income on housing, a household must earn $4,285 monthly or $51,420 annually. Assuming a 40-hour work week, 52 weeks per year, this level translates into a CT Housing Wage of $24.72.

The National average “Housing Wage” for a two-bedroom rental unit is $20.30 and the average Fair Market Rent is $1,056 a month. The annual income needed to afford a FMR of $1,056 is $42,240.  The National renter wage is $15.42.  The average renter needs to work more than 51 hours per week to afford the FMR of $1,056 for a two-bedroom home.  

In Connecticut, the estimated mean (average) wage for a renter is $16.21an 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 2016 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 National Low Income Housing Coalition.
  
Today close to 42 million homes in the United States are rented.  
   

The two-bedroom Housing Wage ranges from $34.22 in Hawaii to $9.58 in Puerto Rico. Connecticut's hourly wage to afford a two bedroom apartment is $24.72.

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:  May 27, 2016 
 
LINKS:
National Low Income Housing Coalition

CT Housing Coalition