Recession Continues to Push Rental Housing Further “Out of Reach” for Low Income Americans

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Taylor Materio (202) 662-1530 x 227 taylor@nlihc.org

Recession Continues to Push Rental Housing Further “Out of Reach” for Low Income Americans

WASHINGTON - A family
in the United States
needs to earn $18.44 an hour, or nearly $38,360 a year, in order to afford a
modest rental home, according to a report released April 21 by the National Low
Income Housing Coalition. Despite the recession, the report finds that rents
continue to rise, while wages continue to fall across the country.

The amount a person working full-time must earn to afford the Fair Market Rent on a
two-bedroom unit is known as the Housing Wage, and Out of Reach calculates this wage for every state,
metropolitan area, non metropolitan area and county in the country. The report
alsocalculates
how many hours someone must work at the minimum and average renter wages in an
area to afford typical rents, and
provides local wage and income data for comparison purposes.

According
to Out of Reach 2010, the
national two-bedroom Fair Market Rent (FMR) is a staggering $959 a month. In
addition, 74% of metro renters live in an area where having two full-time jobs
at the minimum wage would still not allow them to afford the two-bedroom FMR. Other key
findings from Out of Reach 2010
include:

·    The
two-bedroom Housing Wage topped $20.00 in 10 states: HI, DC, CA, MD, NJ, NY,
MA, CT, AK and FL.  

·   
 In 2010, the estimated average wage for renters in the United States is only $14.44, a
decline from $14.69 in 2009.

 ·    At
the federal minimum wage of $7.25, a household would have to work 102 hours
each week to afford the nation’s average FMR for a two-bedroom home.

·    There
is no county in the United
States in which a full-time minimum wage
worker can afford even a one-bedroom apartment at the FMR.

“Out of Reach 2010 shows once again that
prevailing incomes and wages are simply not enough to allow a family to afford
a decent home in their community,” said Sheila Crowley, President of the
National Low Income Housing Coalition.

This
year’s data demonstrate that the recession has only worsened an already
severe housing crisis. “The persistence of
high rates of unemployment and under-employment is making it ever more
difficult for families to secure decent housing. Unfortunately, the situation
is not likely to improve any time soon,” Center for Economic Policy and
Research Co-Director Dean Baker said. 

NLIHC has called on Congress to fund the National Housing Trust
Fund, which would provide communities with funds to build, rehabilitate and
preserve rental housing for people with the lowest incomes. Legislation
creating the National Housing Trust Fund passed in 2008, but Congress has not
yet capitalized the fund.

“Clearly,
the time to act is now. We must take steps to provide safe, decent and
affordable homes for the lowest income families across the country,” Ms.
Crowley said. “Providing $1 billion for the National Housing Trust Fund
will help address the growing shortage of affordable housing, which is one of
the most serious economic problems facing the country. In addition, the NHTF
would create new jobs. Every $1 billion provided to the Trust Fund will support
the immediate construction of 10,000 rental homes, creating 15,100 new
construction jobs and 3,800 new jobs in ongoing operations.”

“[NLIHC’s] Out of Reach annual
report on rental housing affordability shows a growing need to preserve and
expand the current stock of affordable rental housing,” House Speaker
Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said. “The hardships faced by many low income renters in an
economy recovering from the recession and record foreclosures make this need
all the more urgent. We are grateful for NLIHC’s efforts, and we
will continue our partnership to ensure that more Americans have better access
to decent and affordable rental housing.” 

Extensive data for every state, metropolitan area and county in the
country are available online, at www.nlihc.org/oor2010/. Ranking
tables and maps are also available at the website, as is further analysis and
explanation of the data. The
five most expensive metro areas in the U.S. include:

Metro
Area                        
 Housing Wage
· Stamford-Norwalk,
CT      
      $34.62

· San Francisco,
CA    
              $33.85

· Honolulu, HI  
                      
  $32.77

· Santa
Cruz-Watsonville, CA
    $31.85

· Westchester County, NY      
   $31.17

“It is extremely discouraging to see that the wage a worker needs
to earn in order to afford a decent rental home has gone up again, especially
at a time when it is harder than ever for people to find stable, well-paying
jobs,” said NLIHC Research Analyst Megan
DeCrappeo. “As the nation’s focus remains fixed
on the housing market, we have a unique opportunity to bring the issues facing
the lowest income households to the forefront and begin creating sustainable
solutions to the problems that have plagued these families for so long.”

###

The National Low Income Housing Coalition is dedicated solely to ending America’s affordable housing crisis. Established in 1974 by Cushing N. Dolbeare, NLIHC educates, organizes and advocates to ensure decent, affordable housing within healthy neighborhoods for everyone. NLIHC provides up-to-date information, formulates policy and educates the public on housing needs and the strategies for solutions.

More in: