Nearly half of Americans do not earn enough to afford a one-bedroom rental apartment in the vast majority of U.S. counties, according to new data from the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC).
Rent in the U.S. has continued to rise through the covid-19 pandemic. A worker now needs to earn about $20.40 per hour to afford a decent one-bedroom rental apartment.
The report found that a modest two-bedroom rental apartment anywhere in the U.S. is out of reach for a majority of workers in the U.S., where the median wage is $21 an hour and the federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour.
To afford the average two-bedroom rental in the country, a worker must earn $24.90 per hour or more than $51,000 a year.
This means that nearly 60 percent of Americans cannot afford a two-bedroom rental home. It is a common standard that the affordability for rent is not more than 30 percent of a person’s income.
Rental affordability deteriorated significantly in the covid-19 pandemic. Many Americans fell behind on rent payments as rents rose during the pandemic.
Researchers believe that high U.S. rents are a threat to national happiness and well-being.
“The kind of budgets that especially low-income renters face when they’re cost-burdened can lead to serious harms,” said Daniel Threet, a research analyst at the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC), a nonprofit dedicated to ending the U.S. affordable housing crisis and expanding and housing for people with extremely low incomes.
There are 7.5 million low-income renters who are “very” cost burdened. This means that they spend half of their income on housing, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).
This can put renters at risk of homelessness, according to HUD, which estimates that more than 580,000 people were homeless during the peak of the coronavirus crisis in 2020.
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Black and Latino households faced greater challenges of housing affordability during the pandemic.
These households saw higher unemployment rates leading to most families falling behind on rent, according to data analysis from the Census Bureau by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.
The NLIHC calls for more rental help for those who need it and acceleration in building affordable housing.
This includes expanding rental assistance to all entitled struggling renters and making investments in the national Housing Trust Fund and public housing to create, preserve and rehabilitate affordable homes.
The advocacy group also asked Congress to create a permanent National Housing Stabilization Fund to provide temporary assistance for households at risk of eviction and to strengthen and enforce renter protections in order to keep renters stably housed.
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