Minimum wage is not enough to pay rent in the United States

(CNN Business) — Housing has become so expensive in the United States that a minimum wage worker cannot pay the rent, according to a new report.There is no state, county or city in the country where a full-time minimum wage worker working 40 hours a week can afford a two-bedroom rent, according to a report from the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

A full-time minimum wage worker can only pay a rent for a room in 7% of US counties – 218 counties out of a total of more than 3,000 nationwide.

The federal minimum wage is $ 7.25 per hour.

However, the report shows that a worker would need to earn US $ 24.90 per hour to be able to afford a two-bedroom house with a rent adjusted to the market price (“Fair Market Rent”). And it would take a “living wage” of $ 20.40 for a room. Market-adjusted rents are government estimates of what a person should pay for a simple home in their area.

The “housing wage” is the amount a worker would need to earn in order to pay for a home without spending more than 30% of his or her income on rent and utilities.

“These amounts are much higher than what many Americans, including the elderly, people with disabilities, and working families, can spend on housing,” wrote Marcia L. Fudge, secretary of the US Department of Housing and Urban Development. . (HUD) in the foreword to the report.

Rentals are out of reach

Nationwide, the median market-adjusted rent is $ 1,061 a month for a bedroom and $ 1,295 a month for a two-bedroom home, according to the report.

Meanwhile, the median hourly wage for renters is $ 18.78, an income that can absorb just $ 977 a month in rent without having to suffer from housing costs. A household living on minimum wage can afford even less, $ 377 a month, according to the report.

The average renter in 17 states, including California, Florida and New York, earns at least $ 5 below the median two-bedroom housing wage in the state.

The biggest gap is in Hawaii, where the difference between what the average renter makes and the state’s two-bedroom housing wage is $ 20.13.

And even states, as well as the District of Columbia and several dozen counties and municipalities that have minimum wages higher than the federal minimum wage fail the test.

In California, where the minimum wage is US $ 14 an hour, the cost of housing is so high that it still has the highest housing wage: a person in California needs to earn US $ 39.03 an hour to pay a two-bedroom apartment and US $ 31.06 for a one-bedroom apartment.

A worker with the minimum wage would have to work 89 hours a week to pay for the one-bedroom apartment and 112 hours to pay for the two-bedroom.

West Virginia is among the lowest housing wages. But with a minimum wage of $ 8.75 an hour, workers would still have to earn $ 14.83 an hour to pay for a two-bedroom apartment, and $ 12.12 for a bedroom.

The report includes an interactive map that shows how much you have to earn in your area to pay a rent.

The impact of the pandemic

US would extend eviction ban until July 1:03

The pandemic exacerbated housing instability for many, and federal, state and local governments put protections in place to prevent a wave of evictions. An unprecedented amount of federal emergency rental assistance, $ 46 billion, has been set aside to help distressed tenants and their frustrated landlords.

But many will continue to struggle to pay rent in the future if the issue of long-term housing affordability is not addressed, according to the report.

According to the report, there are 7.5 million low-income renters who are “extremely” burdened with expenses, meaning they spend more than half of their income on housing. This can put tenants at risk of homelessness. More than 580,000 people were made homeless during the peak of the coronavirus crisis last year, according to HUD.

Housing affordability is a bigger challenge for black and Latino households, according to the report, as these groups are more likely to be burdened with housing costs.

During the pandemic, black and Latino workers posted higher unemployment rates, making these groups more likely to fall behind on rent, according to analysis of Census Bureau data by the Center on Budget. and Policy Priorities.

The NLIHC, a nonprofit organization that advocates for the growth and improvement of affordable housing, recommends that rental assistance be extended to all eligible tenants in difficulty and that the Trust Fund be invested in National Housing and Public Housing to create, preserve and rehabilitate affordable housing.

The organization also calls on Congress to create a permanent National Housing Stabilization Fund to provide temporary assistance to households at risk of eviction and to strengthen and enforce tenant protections to keep them in stable housing.

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