Two-bed apart­ment out of reach on US min wage: re­port

The Phnom Penh Post - - BUSINESS - Tracy Jan

THE US econ­omy’s booming. Some states have raised min­i­mum wages. But even with re­cent wage growth for the low­est-paid work­ers, there is still nowhere in the coun­try where some­one work­ing a full-time min­i­mum-wage job could af­ford to rent a mod­est twobed­room apart­ment, ac­cord­ing to an an­nual re­port re­leased on Wednesday by the Na­tional Low In­come Hous­ing Coali­tion.

Not even in Arkansas, the state with the cheap­est hous­ing in the coun­try. One would need to earn $13.84 an hour – about $29,000 a year – to af­ford a twobed­room apart­ment there. The min­i­mum wage in Arkansas is $8.50 an hour.

Even the $15 liv­ing wage cham­pi­oned by Democrats would not make a dent in the vast ma­jor­ity of states.

In Hawaii, the state with the most ex­pen­sive hous­ing, one would have to make $36.13 – about $75,000 a year – to af­ford a de­cent two-bed­room apart­ment. The min­i­mum wage in Hawaii rose to $10.10 an hour this year.

It gets worse in many metropoli­tan ar­eas. San Fran­cisco, Marin and San Ma­teo coun­ties top the list of most ex­pen­sive ju­ris­dic­tions, where one would need to make $60.02 an hour to af­ford a mod­est two-bed­room apart­ment.

“The hous­ing cri­sis is grow­ing, es­pe­cially for the low­est­in­come work­ers,” said Diane Yen­tel, pres­i­dent of the Na­tional Low In­come Hous­ing Coali­tion. “The rents are far out of reach from what the average renter is earn­ing.”

Down­siz­ing to a one-bed­room apart­ment will only help so much.

Ac­cord­ing to the re­port, a one-bed­room is af­ford­able for min­i­mum-wage work­ers in only 22 coun­ties in five states: Ari­zona, Cal­i­for­nia, Colorado, Ore­gon and Wash­ing­ton. Those states all set their min­i­mum wages higher than the fed­eral min­i­mum of $7.25.

Na­tion­ally, one would have to earn $17.90 an hour to af­ford a mod­est one-bed­room apart­ment or $22.10 an hour for a two-bed­room rental. That’s based on the com­mon bud­get­ing stan­dard of spend­ing a max­i­mum of 30 per­cent of in­come on hous­ing.

The re­port es­ti­mates that renters na­tion­ally make an average of $16.88 an hour. That means even those mak­ing above min­i­mum wage strug­gle to af­ford rent.

Hous­ing costs have con­tin­ued to rise with grow­ing de­mand for rental hous­ing in the decade since the Great Re­ces­sion. At the same time, new rental con­struc­tion has tilted to­ward the lux­ury mar­ket be­cause of in­creas­ingly high development costs, the re­port said. The num­ber of homes rent­ing for $2,000 or more per month nearly dou­bled be­tween 2005 and 2015.

“While the hous­ing mar­ket may have re­cov­ered for many, we are none­the­less ex­pe­ri­enc­ing an af­ford­able hous­ing cri­sis, es­pe­cially for very low-in­come fam­i­lies,” Sen­a­tor Bernie San­ders said in the re­port.

Mean­while, t he Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion has tried cut- ting fed­eral hous­ing sub­si­dies for the low­est-in­come Amer­i­cans. As it stands, only 1 in 4 house­holds el­i­gi­ble for fed­eral rent as­sis­tance gets any help, the re­port said. Hous­ing and Ur­ban Development Sec­re­tary Ben Car­son re­cently pro­posed tripling rent for the poor­est house­holds and mak­ing it eas­ier for hous­ing au­thor­i­ties to im­pose work re­quire­ments on those re­ceiv­ing rent sub­si­dies.

JUSTIN SUL­LI­VAN/GETTY IM­AGES NORTH AMER­ICA/AFP

Fast food work­ers and union mem­bers protest to raise the min­i­mum wage on Fe­bru­ary 12 in Oakland, Cal­i­for­nia.

TOSHIFUMI KITAMURA/AFP

Toshio Kagami, CEO of Ori­en­tal Land, speaks on Thursday.

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