The National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) released its 2019 Out of Reach report today. The report concluded that a full-time worker needs to earn an hourly wage of $22.96 on average to afford a modest, two-bedroom rental home in the U.S. This Housing Wage for a two-bedroom home is $15.71 higher than the federal minimum wage of $7.25 and $5.39 higher than the national average hourly wage earned by renters of $17.57. In nine states and the District of Columbia, the two-bedroom Housing Wage is more than $25.00 per hour.
This year marks the 30th anniversary of the report, which documents the significant gap between renters’ wages and the cost of rental housing across the United States. Low wages, wage disparities, racial inequalities and a severe shortage of affordable and available rental homes continue to leave far too many people struggling to keep roofs over their heads.
The federal minimum wage has remained at $7.25 an hour without an increase since 2009, not keeping pace with the increasing cost of rental housing. In no state, even those where the minimum wage is set above the federal standard, can a minimum wage renter working a 40-hour work week afford a modest two-bedroom rental unit at the average fair market rent. On average nationally, a renter earning the federal minimum wage would need to work 127 hours per week to afford a two-bedroom rental home at the fair market rent and 103 hours per week to afford a one-bedroom rental home.
In most areas of the U.S., a family of four with poverty-level income earns no more than $25,750 and can afford a monthly rent of no more than $644. The national average fair market rent for a one-bedroom home is $970 per month and $1,194 for a two-bedroom home, far from affordable for a family in poverty.