Renting An Apartment Still Remains A Pipe Dream For Retail Workers

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Photo: Flickr / confusedbee

For many working Americans across the U.S., the rent is still too damned high, reports the National Low Income Housing Coalition in Out of Reach 2012. This isn’t surprising. We reported that holiday retail workers could barely lock in a mortgage on a decent-priced home, and low-income workers’ wages were obviously stunted by the recession.

However, NLIHC’s finding that workers earning minimum wage ($7.25/hour in 2012) cannot afford a two-bedroom rental apartment is troubling given that the retail sector is one of the few bright spots in the job market right now—and that these workers comprise 9.8 per cent of the nation’s poorest renters. 

Even if you live and work in San Francisco, where the minimum wage is above $10/hour, or one of 18 states, including Washington D.C., that raised their minimum wages this year, you’re still basically screwed, says NLIHC.

To afford the national average two-bedroom apartment’s rent—$949 per month—a low-income household needs to earn $37,960 annually, which just isn’t happening. That’s $18.25 per hour—they only earn $14.15. 

Worsening matters is the fact that rents have ballooned nationwide, particularly in “highly urbanized” regions like California and the Northeast corridor between Boston and D.C. But even outside of those areas, affordable housing remains out of reach unless low-income Americans “pick up extra hours by cobbling together several jobs,” the researchers write. Otherwise, “they face a gruelling search for affordable housing with few decent options available to them.” 

We’ve written that skyrocketing city costs are pushing prospective dwellers out of the market, and that construction on rental units remains stymied due to archaic (and invasive) construction laws.

We’ve also covered the ongoing housing crisis and how it’s created a new class of unwitting renters, many of whom faced foreclosure and are struggling to make ends meet. 

“An affordable home, providing stability and shelter, is a basic human need,” write the researchers. 

Based on their findings and this increased demand for rentals, many Americans risk going without.  

Now see the trials and tribulations that accompany renting an apartment in NYC > 

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