Monday, July 2, 2018
Happy Monday, property law profs! Last week, the National Low Income Housing Coalition released its annual report titled Out of Reach 2018. The basic takeaway is that there's nowhere in the US where a full-time worker (no over-time) earning minimum wage can afford a decent two-bedroom apartment. Here's an excerpt from the study:
The report’s Housing Wage is an estimate of the hourly wage a full-time worker must earn to afford a rental home at HUD’s fair market rent (FMR) without spending more than 30% of his or her income on housing costs. FMRs provide an estimate of what a family moving today can expect to pay for a modestly priced rental home in a given area. This year’s findings demonstrate how far out of reach modestly priced housing is for the growing low-wage work force, despite recent wage growth, and for other vulnerable populations across the country.
The 2018 national Housing Wage is $22.10 for a modest two-bedroom rental home and $17.90 for a modest one-bedroom rental home. Among the 50 states and the District of Columbia, the two-bedroom Housing Wage ranges from $13.84 in Arkansas to $36.13 in Hawaii. The five metropolitan areas with the highest two-bedroom Housing Wages are Stamford-Norwalk, CT ($38.19), Honolulu, HI ($39.06), Oakland-Fremont, CA ($44.79), San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA ($48.50), and San Francisco, CA ($60.02).
A full-time worker earning the federal minimum wage of $7.25 needs to work approximately 122 hours per week for all 52 weeks of the year, or approximately three full-time jobs, to afford a two-bedroom rental home at the national average fair market rent. The same worker needs to work 99 hours per week for all 52 weeks of the year, or approximately two and a half full-time jobs, to afford a one- bedroom home at the national average fair market rent.In no state, metropolitan area, or county can a worker earning the federal minimum wage or prevailing state minimum wage afford a two-bedroom rental home at fair market rent by working a standard 40-hour week. In only 22 counties out of more than 3,000 counties nationwide can a full-time minimum- wage worker afford a one-bedroom rental home at fair market rent. These 22 counties are all located in states with a minimum wage higher than $7.25. Higher minimum wages are important, but they are not the silver-bullet solution for housing affordability. Thirty-eight local jurisdictions have their own minimum wages higher than the state or federal minimum-wage, but all fall short of the local one-bedroom Housing Wage.
An interesting feature of the report is that it includes an interactive map of the US where you can focus-in on a state and see the average hourly wage and hours of work per week need to afford to rent a 2 bedroom home. For example, Louisiana would require $16.63 per hour and a 92-hour work week. Oklahoma would require $15.41 per hour and a 85-hour work week. New York requires $30.03 per hour and a 115-hour work week. For perspective, the federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour, and only a handful of states have laws that require higher.
Now of course, not everywhere in states like New York does one have to earn that much and work that long to afford a place to rent. To that end, the interactive map allows the user to zero-in on many zip codes within a state to get more customized data.
When you cover landlord-tenant law, this is a really great tool to use in class. This, used in conjunction with the Urban Institute's mortgage origination map, can help students see the real world effects of our housing economy--who gets what kind of tenure and what they pay for it. Have a great week!