- HUD determined the national housing wage for a two-bedroom unit to be $20.30.
- Hawaii has the highest housing wage at $34.22.
- Minimum wage workers need to work 112 hours per week to afford reasonable housing that does not exceed 30 percent of their yearly income.
According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC), it is not possible to afford a two-bedroom apartment at the fair market rent price working full-time at the current minimum wage — in any state.
NLIHC’s released Out of Reach 2016: No Refuge for Low Income Renters outlining the dangers of the dwindling affordable housing market in the United States.
The report states that the national housing wage is $20.30 for a two-bedroom rental unit. The housing wage for a one-bedroom unit is $16.35.
The Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) determines this figure based on median rent prices in all states. The national housing wage is the national average, but the numbers vary state by state due to inflated costs of living.
The housing wage is the estimated hourly rate that a full-time worker must be paid to afford a rental unit without spending more than 30 percent of his or her income on rent and utilities.
Metro areas with the highest two-bedroom housing wage
San Francisco, California, tops the list at $44.02, followed by $40.44 in the East Bay’s Oakland, Emeryville and Berkeley as well as nearby Richmond. With the current $10 state-mandated minimum wage in California, workers must spend up to 89 hours per week at their job to afford a two-bedroom unit, and the slightly higher minimum wages in some of those metros — $12.25 in San Francisco and Oakland, $11.52 in Richmond, $11 in Berkeley and $14.44 in Emeryville — don’t offset the much higher cost of renting in those locales.
Los Angeles’ housing wage is $28.65. Minimum-wage workers need to work 2.9 full-time jobs to afford a two-bedroom unit at the fair market rate.
New York’s minimum wage ($9.00) is nearly three times less than the $26.69 housing wage determined by NLIHC. This is daunting, given that almost half of all New York residents are renters.
In Washington, D.C., where the minimum wage is $10.50, the housing wage is $31.21. The District’s renting residents make up 58 percent of the housing market.
In order for minimum wage workers in Maryland to afford a two-bedroom unit, they must work upwards of 129 hours per week. The housing wage in Maryland $26.53, while the minimum wage sits at $8.25
In Miami, the housing wage topples the state wage at $24.04. Florida has approximately 2,444,564 renters with an average renter’s wage of $14.49. The housing wage in Florida $5.47 more than that.
Chicago’s housing wage is $22.62. The state’s minimum wage is $9.98. Workers must remained clocked in 97 hours per week or work 2.4 full-time jobs to afford reasonable living.
In Houston, where the state housing wage is $7.60 per hour, the metro area housing cost is $18.23. Texas has more than 3,000,000 renters, making up 37 percent of the market.
The states with the highest two-bedroom housing wage are Hawaii ($34.22), California ($28.59), New York ($26.69), Maryland ($26.53), and New Jersey ($26.52).
Minimum wage figures vs. national housing wage
In April, HUD declared the allocation of $174 million for affordable housing in the form of the National Housing Trust Fund. The fund is capitalized by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The fund will supplement the efforts of federal, state and local programs devised to help low income families.
Currently, the national minimum wage is $7.25. NLIHC did the math to figure out how many hours per week a full-time employee would need to work at that wage to afford fair market rental prices. In doing so, NLIHC learned that someone working at that wage would need to work 112 hours per week, or 2.8 full-time jobs.
The average hourly wage of renters in the United States is $15.42. This wage is $4.88 less than the NHG.