Today the National Low Income Housing Coalition released Out of Reach 2018, its latest annual report on housing costs, and well they’re awful.
According to the report, a full-time worker earning $7.25, the national minimum wage, needs to work 122 hours a week every single week of the year to be able to afford your average, no-frills, two-bedroom rental in the United States. The report goes in depth, looking at how much a minimum wage worker must work to afford housing in each state. Hawaii comes out as the most expensive state, where the fair market rental price for a one-bedroom home is more than $1,400 a month, but the average renter takes home $840 in that same time. States that are home to America’s biggest and fastest growing cities aren’t far behind. California and New York are the third and fourth most expensive states respectively.
The data gives fresher context to affordable housing fights taking place across the country. For example, this week corporations including Starbucks and Amazon successfully lobbied to have the city of Seattle repeal a corporate, $275-per-employee head tax that would have raised about $50 million dollars for services addressing homelessness and providing affordable housing. The city is one of many currently buckling under rising housing costs, Seattle’s having been propelled in part by the same corporations that fought against the tax. More than 12,000 people are currently experiencing homelessness in Seattle alone. According to the new report, minimum wage workers in Washington have to work 93 hours a week to afford a two-bedroom home.
The numbers are all laid out here in front of us. What’s less clear is how, and when, affordable housing will be the new normal.