As a result, according to a new report from the National Low Income Housing Coalition, a minimum-wage worker in the District of Columbia – where the wage floor is currently $8.25 an hour – would need to work 137 hours a week to afford what the Department of Housing and Urban Development considers a fair market rent for a modest two-bedroom home. Put another way: A local household would need 3.4 full-time minimum-wage workers to afford such a home. Or, a single earner in that household would need to make a lot more money: $28.25 an hour to be exact.
The National Low Income Housing Coalition refers to this last statistic as a "housing wage." It's the amount of money a person would need to earn per hour to afford the local fair market rent (including utilities) for a two-bedroom home, based on a 40-hour week and a 52-week working year (yes, that assumes zero time off). This figure also assumes that a person spends no more than 30 percent of his or her income on housing. In the District, HUD's fair market two-bedroom rent is $1,469 a month, meaning a household would need to make more than $58,000 a year.
The District currently has one of the largest gaps in the country between what minimum-wage workers earn and what they'd need to make to afford such a home. Nationwide, the average housing wage is $18.92, a number that's obviously higher than the minimum wage everywhere in the country.
Here is the same map translated into hours:
A couple of points to acknowledge in looking at these maps: Not everyone needs a two-bedroom home, nor do all families that need two bedrooms have only one earner. But this scenario represents a realistic challenge for a single parent. And even fair market rent for one-bedrooms may be widely out of reach.
Also, only about 5 percent of hourly paid workers in America make the minimum wage. That said, these numbers suggest that a single parent would still struggle in much of the country on higher wages than that.