Rent shuts many out
Low-income families are losing ground, study says
— reported by the Houston Chronicle(1)
The cost of rental housing has increased faster than wages, making it increasingly difficult for low-income families to afford even modest apartments, an advocacy group said this month.
The coalition, which advocates for more affordable housing, issues a report each year tracking rental costs in every state, county and metropolitan area in the country.
It says families should spend no more than 30 percent of their incomes on housing and utilities, a standard recognized by many housing experts. Under that standard, the coalition said it could not find a single county in the United States where a full-time worker making minimum wage could afford a one-bedroom apartment.
In reality, the report found, many low-income families spend a far larger share of their incomes on housing.
Nationally, families have to make an average of $15.78 an hour to afford a two-bedroom apartment, while spending no more than 30 percent of their earnings on housing costs. That is up from $15.37 a year ago.
The federal minimum wage, at $5.15 an hour, was last increased in 1997. Fifteen states have minimum wages higher than the federal level.
Many low-income people are forced to choose between paying rent, buying medicine or providing books for their children, Bender said.