It is getting harder for low-income Americans to afford a modest apartment.
In no state can an individual working a 40-hour week at the minimum wage afford a two-bedroom apartment for his or her family. A one-bedroom apartment is even out of the worker's grasp.
The 2013 housing wage is $18.79, exceeding the $14.77 hourly wage earned by the average renter by $4 an hour, and greatly exceeding the national minimum wage of $7.25, reports the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) in its new "Out of Reach 2013" report.
The housing wage is the estimated full-time hourly wage a household must earn to afford a decent rental unit at fair market rent while spending no more than 30 percent of its income on housing costs.
This year's amount increased from last year' $18.25, according to Sheila Crowley, NLIHC president and CEO.
"There is a significant mismatch in what it is that people need to earn to afford modest housing and what they earn," she says.
"Out of Reach" is the only annual housing report that provides data about housing costs and incomes of renters in every jurisdiction across the country.
Hawaii leads all states with a two-bedroom housing wage of $32.14. In other words, a household earning minimum wage must work 4.4 jobs just to afford a decent apartment.
This year, there are 12 states where the housing wage topped $20, three more states than last year, reports Megan Bolton, research director at NLIHC.
Honolulu was the most expensive metropolitan area, with a housing wage of $35.25 for a two-bedroom apartment, followed by San Francisco ($34.52) and Stamford-Norwalk, Conn. ($31.69). Five out of the 10 most expensive metro areas were in California.
The gap between wages and rents means families are spending significantly more than 30 percent of their income on housing, people are doubling up, and adult children are living longer with their parents. In the worst case, people are becoming homeless.
"'Out of Reach' proves that the affordable housing problem is real," says Barbara Poppe, executive director of the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness, calling on all lawmakers, advocates, and others to collaborate on a solution to the problem.
To close the gap between the demand and supply, about 4.5 million housing units affordable to extremely low-income renters need to be created.
NLIHC is focused on securing money for the National Housing Trust Fund, which was established in 2008 but has yet to be funded. The fund would provide states with the dollars they need to expand the affordable housing stock.
Crowley also pointed out that across-the-board federal budget cuts triggered by sequestration this month will cut valuable housing assistance. She is hearing that in anticipation of funding cuts public housing authorities are suspending the issuance of Sec. 8 vouchers, meaning that if a housing voucher is turned in by a family that no longer requires or is eligible for the program, the agency is electing not to re-issue the voucher to the next person on the waiting list.
For more information about the report, visit the NLIHC's website.