Holding to the axiom that a person shouldn’t put more than 30 percent of wages toward housing costs, the organization found that to afford a two-bedroom home in D.C., renters would have to earn at least $34.48 per hour — nearly five times the federal minimum wage and more than 2.5 times the District’s minimum wage.
Affording a one-bedroom home would mean earning $27.75 per hour, the report added.
The report was meant to show how far “out of reach modestly priced housing is for the growing low-wage workforce,” according to the organization, by highlighting the gap between the amount of money people earn and the cost of renting.
Researchers based their calculations on the “fair-market rent,” an amount calculated by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, which determines that number by looking at the 40th percentile of rents for standard housing units in a given area. Fair-market rent data is typically used to determine the appropriate costs of voucher programs and Section 8 contracts.
Maryland was cited as one of the states with the largest gap between the average wage earned by renters and the cost of a two-bedroom apartment. Renters in Maryland earn an average of $17.51 an hour, according to the report, but to live in a two-bedroom unit and pay the requisite 30 percent of their income, they would need $11.53 more hourly.
Virginia renters need to earn about $23.69 per hour to afford a two-bedroom rental unit in the state, though that number fluctuates depending on the part of the state.
A two-bedroom apartment in D.C. was calculated to cost about $1,793 in monthly rent. To afford that, plus utilities, without spending more than 30 percent of one’s income on housing costs, the study said a household would have to earn about $5,977 monthly, or $71,720 per year before taxes.
D.C., which was included in the analysis as a state rather than a city, ranked among expensive places like New York, California and Hawaii, where people would have to earn more than $30 per hour to afford such housing.
The metropolitan area that requires renters to make the most is San Francisco, where renters need to earn $60.02 an hour to afford a two-bedroom apartment, according to the report.
“In no state, metropolitan area, or county can a worker earning the federal minimum wage or prevailing state minimum wage afford a decent two-bedroom rental home at fair market rent by working a standard 40-hour week,” the National Low Income Housing Coalition wrote. “There are just 22 counties out of more than 3,000 counties nationally where a full-time minimum-wage worker can afford a one-bedroom apartment at fair-market rent.”
Arkansas, which boasts the least expensive statewide rental market in the country, would still require nearly twice the federal minimum wage to afford a two-bedroom home. The report suggests renters there would need to earn $13.84 an hour to do so.