A new report by the National Low Income Housing Coalition finds that the Fair Market Rent (FMR) for a two-bedroom apartment is $1804 in California. According to their findings, “In order to afford this level of rent and utilities — without paying more than 30% of income on housing — a household must earn $6,014 monthly or $72,165 annually.”
The report ranked California second in the hourly wages required to be able to afford rent in a two-bedroom home. Hawaii was ranked number one.
Yolo County according to the data was below the state average, with the average two-bedroom costing $1342 requiring an hourly wage of $1342 and an annual income of $53,680. However, according to the latest UC Davis rental survey, the average monthly rent in Davis was $1815 or right about the state average.
“In my district, the Massachusetts 7th, one of the most diverse and unequal districts in our nation, we are distinctly aware of the interconnectedness between housing and economic opportunity,” Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts explained in the report. “The lack of affordable housing is perhaps the greatest challenge to successfully ending homelessness and lifting millions of people out of poverty.”
“Much has changed in the past 30 years. New data sources and the internet have fundamentally changed how people access and disseminate housing data,” said NLIHC President and CEO Diane Yentel. “What has not changed is that the U.S. has a deep and pervasive housing crisis affecting millions of renters and a pressing need to educate and mobilize people to end it.
“Our rental housing needs have worsened considerably over the past 30 years,” she said. Back in the late 1980s, housing assistance reached only 1 in 3 eligible households. She said, “Today, housing assistance reaches fewer than 1 in 4. The private market has lost more than 2.5 million low-cost rental units since 1990, and rent increases have significantly outpaced income growth and price increases for necessities like food and transportation. Wage inequality has worsened between black and white workers at all wage levels, exacerbating the racial housing inequities that have long plagued the nation. Affordable rental housing for low-income people is significantly further out of reach now than in 1989, despite a massive increase in wealth for higher-income households.”
The report found, in 2018, the National Housing Wage was $22.96 “for a modest two-bedroom rental home” and $18.65 for a modest one-bedroom rental home.
That means, “A worker earning the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour must work nearly 127 hours per week (more than 3 full-time jobs) to afford a two-bedroom rental home or 103 hours per week (more than 2.5 full-time jobs) to afford a one-bedroom rental home at the national average fair market rent.
“The struggle to afford rental housing is not confined to minimum-wage workers,” the report continues. “The average renter’s hourly wage is $5.39 less than the national two-bedroom Housing Wage and $1.08 less than the one-bedroom Housing Wage.”
The result of this is that an average renter must work 52 hours per week to afford a modest two-bedroom apartment of his or her own. The report notes that is a task that “is even more difficult for a single parent of a young child or a person with a disability.”
Indeed, the report finds, “In only 10% of U.S. counties can a full-time worker earning the average renter’s wage afford a modest two-bedroom rental home at fair market rent, working a standard 40-hour work week. The same worker could afford a modest one-bedroom apartment in 41% of U.S. counties.”
Here are some figures for California…
While Yolo County is better than state average, Davis is right at state average. Sacramento is also more affordable compared to the state average.
In Sacramento, a two-bedroom apartment requires an hourly wage of $23.46. That means someone working for minimum wage would have to work at least two full-time jobs. The average renter in Sacramento makes $17.02 hourly and at that amount would have to work 56 hours a week.
On the other hand, Marin County required the highest income in California, according to the study, where residents would have to make $60.96 an hour to afford a two-bedroom home. A person who makes minimum wage would have to work at least five full-time jobs to afford it.
Modoc County required the lowest income, according to the study, where residents would have to make $13.46 an hour. A person renting there would have to work 44 hours a week for the rent to be 30 percent of their income.
—David M. Greenwald reporting