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Report Confirms That Minimum Wage Workers Simply Can’t Afford to Rent an Apartment in Most States

Low income family

Despite the booming economy and increased minimum wage in several states, a recent report released by the National Low Income Housing Coalition confirms that a lot of minimum wage workers who work full-time still can't afford to rent a two-bedroom apartment.
In Arkansas, where housing costs are generally the lowest, one would still need to earn $13.84 per hour or $29,000 a year to afford an apartment there. However, the minimum wage in Arkansas is $8.50 per hour.

Not even the $15 living wage advocated by the Democrats can alleviate the problem in most states. In Hawaii, where housing is the most expensive among the states, one would need to earn $36.13 an hour or $75,000 a year, while the minimum wage in Hawaii only increased to $10.10 this year.

In some metropolitan areas including San Francisco, Marin, and San Mateo in California, one would have to make at least $60.02 an hour in order to afford a two-bedroom apartment.

"The housing crisis is growing, especially for the lowest-income 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."

While it could be more affordable to rent a one-bedroom apartment instead, many still struggle to find an affordable yet modest option. According to the report, the national average for one to afford a modest one-bedroom apartment is $17.90 per hour and $22.10 per hour for a two-bedroom apartment. Whereas, only a few states set their minimum wages higher than the federal minimum of $7.25.

Since the Great Recession, housing costs continued to increase as well as the demand for rental housing. The number of homes renting for over $2,000 per month almost doubled from 2005 to 2015.

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

Furthermore, the Trump administration has tried to cut housing subsidies for low-income families in which only 1 of 4 eligible households really gets rent assistance. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson also tried allowing housing authorities to impose stricter work requirements and proposing a triple increase in rents for low-income households which would rather add more to the problem.

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