Anyone who works full-time and earns minimum wage can’t afford to rent a typical apartment anywhere in the country. In D.C., the problem is even worse because an individual needs to earn $31 an hour to rent a two-bedroom unit.
Those statistics and the research behind it are part of a new study from the National Low-Income Housing Coalition called “Out of Reach 2016: No Refuge for Low-Income Renters.” The organization that advocates for more affordable housing did the calculations for every state and metropolitan area in the U.S.
“A person working at D.C.’s minimum wage of $10.50 still needs to work more than 100 hours a week in order to afford a one-bedroom unit at fair market rent,” said Adrianne Todman, executive director of the District of Columbia Housing Authority. “This rate is higher than last years and speaks precisely to why DCHA continues to work to create and preserve safe and affordable housing for people of all incomes.”
Last year, a family had to earn more than $28 to rent a two-bedroom apartment at fair market rent. This year that number is more than $31.
The study uses financial experts’ guideline that says only 30 percent of household income should be spent on rent and utilities. The study also uses the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s fair market rent for the area. The fair market rent is an average rent for the larger metropolitan area, including parts of Virginia and Maryland. Using HUD’s figures, a one-bedroom unit’s fair market rent is $1.402 per month and a two-bedroom unit is $1,623.
“’Out of Reach’ confirms that the housing situation for extremely low-income households is especially dire,” said Diane Yentel, president and CEO of NLIHC. “We face an alarming and increasing gap between the housing needs of our nation’s lowest-income households and what is affordable and available to them,” she said.
The report lists Hawaii’s housing wage requirement as the highest at more than $34 per hour to be able to afford a two-bedroom apartment. California, New York, Maryland, and New Jersey follow Hawaii as being the most expensive states to rent two-bedroom units.