This year’s Out of Reach report reveals that low-wage workers in Washington face a tough rental market, despite benefiting from the highest minimum wage at the state level and more recently a minimum wage in SeaTac that is more than twice the federal minimum wage. In Seatac, in order to afford a decent one-bedroom apartment, one would have to make $17.56 an hour (working full time), and in order to afford a two-bedroom apartment,  $21.60 an hour, according to the report.  These calculated housing wages are $2.56 and $6.60 per hour more, respectively, than the new groundbreaking minimum wage of $15 per hour. Food for thought… Read more about gaps between wages and housing costs in Sam Batko’s summary of the report below. 


Written by Sam Batko for the National Alliance to End Homelessness, 3/25/14

Yesterday, the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) released its annual report on the low income housing needs in America, “Out of Reach 2014.”

In the report, NLIHC notes that the “Housing Wage,” i.e. the hourly wage a full-time worker must earn to afford a decent two-bedroom rental unit at HUD’s estimated Fair Market Rent, is now $18.92 per hour.

That puts 2014’s Housing Wage 52 percent higher than it was in 2000. And, perhaps more strikingly, it means that a full-time minimum wage worker cannot afford a one-bedroom or two-bedroom rental unit at Fair Market Rent in any state in the U.S.

The states where a worker must make the highest wages to afford housing are:

  • Hawaii – $31.54 per hour
  • District of Columbia – $28.25 per hour
  • California – $26.04 per hour

In Hawaii, California, Maryland, DC, New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Virginia, New Hampshire, Alaska, Delaware, and Connecticut, a minimum wage worker would have to work over 100 hours a week to be able to afford a two-bedroom apartment without paying more than 30 percent of their income toward housing.

The most expensive Counties in the country all require a worker to make over $30.00 per hour and are predominantly located in California. The three most expensive counties are listed below:

  • Marin County, CA – $37.62 per hour
  • San Francisco County, CA – $37.62 per hour
  • San Mateo County, CA – $37.62 per hour

To see where your state stands, check out the map below from the report, which shows the hours someone would have to work at minimum wage in order to afford rent. For more information, check out the report itself.

map from NAEH out of reach report