Affordable Rents 'Cruelly Beyond Reach' for Many Americans

June 14, 2018
House interior
Photo: Unsplash/Ella Jardim

A new report studying rent and wages found that the average American renter earns $16.88, enough to afford a two-bedroom apartment in 11 percent of all U.S. counties.

The National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) report revealed that there are only 22 U.S. counties where an individual working 40 hours per week, earning the local minimum wage, (typically higher than the federal minimum of $7.25), can afford a one-bedroom apartment. Tanvi Misra of CityLab writes, "There isn’t a single state, city, or county in the U.S. where someone earning federal or state minimum wage for a 40-hour work week can afford a two-bedroom home at fair market rent." 

The national “housing wage” in 2018 is $22.10 for a modest two-bedroom rental home and $17.90 for a one-bedroom, the report estimates. (That’s how much an average renter in the U.S. would need to make to afford a modest apartment at fair market rent, without paying more than 30 percent of their income towards housing.)* Of course, there's widespread geographical discrepancy ... You'd need to earn $60.02 to reasonably afford a two-bedroom in San Francisco, Calif., but in Little Rock, Ark., it's about $15.60. 

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