Marin among nation's top three most expensive places for renters

Gladys Abbott
June 15, 2018

The same worker would still need to work 99 hours a week every week of the year to afford a one-bedroom.

Workers at the Community Services Agency, which provides housing, food and healthcare assistance to families in need, are seeing first-hand how the imbalance between wages and rent prices is impacting the Bay Area.

Here's a breakdown of the report.

Renters across the country earn an average hourly rate of $16.88, the report estimated, a finding that illustrates how even folks earning more than the minimum wage scramble to pay for housing.

Nationally, as the demand for rental housing has increased in the past decade, most rental housing being built is "geared largely toward the high end of the market, due to increasingly high development costs", according to the report.

Nationwide, Colorado's housing wage was 11th highest, with states such as Hawaii, Alaska, California and NY requiring a higher income to afford basic housing. People who spend more than that amount are considered "cost-burdened" and often have to cut corners in other areas to make their budgets work.

A map included in the report shows the rent necessary in each state to afford a two-bedroom home
A map included in the report shows the rent necessary in each state to afford a two-bedroom home. Credit National Low Income Housing Coalition

The median household income in the United States for 2016 was $57,617 or $27.70 an hour. In Seattle, the minimum wage now ranges from $11.50 to $15 an hour depending on the size of the employer and benefits offered.

The average fair market rent in Hawaii is $1,879, the most expensive in all 50 states. In major metropolitan areas, it gets worse.

Affordability is based on the federal standard that no more than 30 percent of a household's gross income should be spent on rent and utilities. A renter would need to earn $60.02 an hour ($124,840 a year) to afford the fair market rent of $3,121 a month.

Two condos for sale by the Champlain Housing Trust in the Colchester Ethan Allen complex, shown on the trust's website as examples of affordable housing available in VT. That translates into the largest shortfall between the average renter wage and "housing wage" in the nation. Maui County's housing wage was calculated to be $31.13. The states the report found to have the greatest disparities between wages and renting costs include the usual suspects, like Hawaii (-$19.98), Maryland (-$11.53), California (-$11.18) and New Jersey (-$9.96).

City officials have been considering the so-called Smart Housing Mix - a policy that would require developers to reserve some apartments in large complexes for low-income residents - for almost two years but have not finalized those plans. Bernie Sanders wrote in the report's preface. "We applaud our state's leaders for committing $200 million towards affordable housing". These programs have been chronically underfunded, and the Trump administration has proposed raising the rents of these affordable housing options.

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