Nowhere in the United States can a minimum wage worker afford a modest 2-bedroom apartment. Those are the findings of a new report that shows just how severe the affordable housing crisis is for low-wage workers.
The housing situation for extremely low income households is especially dire. We face an alarming and increasing gap between the housing needs of our nation’s lowest income households and what is affordable and available to them.
– Diane Yentel, President and CEO, NLIHC
The report from the National Low Income Housing Coalition finds that on average, a full-time worker must earn more than $20/hour to afford the fair market rent without exceeding 30% of their income–the national standard for housing affordability.
Alabama remains more affordable than most other states, ranking 48th in its housing wage–the hourly pay needed by a full-time worker to afford a modest apartment without exceeding 30% of household income on rent and utilities. Even so, a full-time worker in Alabama would need to earn almost $14/hour in order to have access to affordable housing. With the minimum wage stuck at $7.25 and the average renters’ wage for the state at $11.64, it’s clear workers are in need of serious changes to the state’s economic status quo.
Key findings for Alabama include:
- 31% of residents are renters
- a worker must earn at least $13.93/hour to afford a 2-bedroom apartment ($18.66/hour for a 3-bedroom)
- a minimum wage worker would need to work 77 hours per week to afford a 2-bedroom apartment (103 hours for a 3-bedroom)
- affordable rent for a minimum wage worker is $377/month; for someone earning the average renter wage it’s $605/month
- fair market rent for a 2-bedroom apartment in Alabama is $724/month ($970 for a 3-bedroom)
- most expensive counties for renters are: Baldwin, Bibb, Blount, Jefferson, Shelby, and St. Clair
Housing is an important piece of economic security, but it’s just one component along with wages, food security, quality affordable childcare, and access to reliable transportation. Alabama has to change. Nearly half of all residents earn $30,000/annually or less–62% earn less than $40,000. Despite all this, the state legislature has blocked increases to the minimum wage and continues to cut critical services for the state’s poorest residents. The vast majority of Alabamians have a stake in creating change, we just have to create the political will to make it happen.