For Immediate Release


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New Report Reveals Renting Out of Reach for America’s Workers

WASHINGTON - Rents are unaffordable to full-time working people in every community across the country, finds the National Low Income Housing Coalition in a report it released today, Out of Reach 2012: America’s Forgotten Housing Crisis.

According to the report, a full-time worker must earn per $18.25 per hour in order to afford rent and utilities on a modest two-bedroom rental unit without spending more than 30% of income on housing costs. By contrast, the average American renter earns just $14.15 per hour.

Out of Reach 2012 is a side-by-side comparison of wages and rents in every county, metropolitan area, combined nonmetropolitan area and state in the United States. For each jurisdiction, the report calculates the amount of money a household must earn in order to afford a rental unit in a range of sizes at the area’s Fair Market Rent (FMR), based on the generally accepted affordability standard of paying no more than 30% of income for housing costs. From these calculations the hourly wage a worker must earn to afford the FMR for a two-bedroom home is derived. This figure is the Housing Wage. 

In the report’s preface, HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan notes that high unemployment makes renting unaffordable for many people, particularly in rural areas; while renters are priced out even in more affluent parts of the country, where stagnant homeownership rates put pressure on the rental market. Because of these factors, “it is more important than ever that we provide a supply of affordable rental homes at the scale that families require and in the places that need them,” writes Donovan in the report.

To illustrate the disparity in rural areas, Out of Reach 2012 shows that while the Housing Wage in American nonmetropolitan areas is $12.21, the renter wage in these areas is $9.87.

Additional findings from the report include:

Hawaii has the highest state Housing Wage, at $31.68 per hour.

Nine states in addition to Hawaii have Housing Wages over $20 per hour: California, New Jersey, Maryland, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Virginia, and the District of Columbia.

The most expensive nonmetropolitan areas for renters are in Massachusetts, Hawaii, Connecticut, and Alaska.

Sheila Crowley, President and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, says that while the situation is dire for millions of American renters, solutions are readily available. “The solution to this shortage of housing affordable to the average American renter is simple: we must increase the supply of affordable housing, particularly housing affordable to those in the greatest need. We call on Congress to fund the National Housing Trust Fund immediately, so that we will finally have a solution to the problem of homelessness and housing instability in America.”


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The National Housing Trust Fund was signed into law in 2008, and will, once funded, provide communities with funds to build, preserve and rehabilitate rental homes that are affordable for extremely and very low income households. 

Extensive data for every state, metropolitan area and county in the country are available online at 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 United States are:

Metro Area Housing              Wage

San Francisco, CA               $36.63
Stamford-Norwalk, CT         $34.02
Honolulu, HI                         $33.98
Nassau-Suffolk, NY             $32.35
Orange County, CA              $31.77




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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.

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