Affordable Housing is Out of Reach in Arkansas for Low-wage Workers
In order to afford a modest, two-bedroom apartment at fair market rent in Arkansas, full-time workers need to earn $14.26 per hour. This is Arkansas’ 2019 Housing Wage, revealed in a national report released today. The report, Out of Reach, was jointly released by the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC), a research and advocacy organization dedicated solely to achieving affordable and decent homes for the lowest income people, and ACHANGE.
This year marks the 30th anniversary of the report that documents the significant gap between renters’ wages and the cost of rental housing across the United States. Low wages, wage disparities, racial inequalities and a severe shortage of affordable and available rental homes continue to leave far too many people struggling to keep roofs over their heads.
The federal minimum wage has remained at $7.25 an hour without an increase since 2009, not keeping pace with the high cost of rental housing. In no state, even those where the minimum wage is set above the federal standard, can a minimum wage renter working a 40-hour work week afford a modest two-bedroom rental unit at the average fair market rent. Working at the minimum wage of $9.25 in Arkansas, a wage earner must have 1.2 full-time jobs or work 34 hours per week to afford a modest one-bedroom apartment and work 1.5 full-time jobs or work 42 hours per week to afford a two-bedroom apartment.
The typical renter in Arkansas earns $13.54, which is $0.72 less than the hourly wage needed to afford a modest rental home.
The median-wage full-time worker in eight of the nation’s ten largest occupations does not earn enough to afford a modest one-bedroom rental home at fair market rent. People we rely on—retail salespersons, fast food workers, personal care aides, and home health aides—can’t afford to pay their rent without spending more than 30% of their income. Nationally, these jobs are projected to experience the greatest growth over the next decade, but they pay less than the hourly wage necessary to afford a modest one-bedroom rental home at fair market rent.
“In 99% of counties in the US, a full-time minimum-wage worker cannot afford a one-bedroom rental home at fair market rent,” said Diane Yentel, president and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition. “Our rental housing needs have worsened considerably over the past 30 years. Housing is out of reach for millions of low-wage workers. But members of Congress are starting to take note. Big, robust housing bills have been introduced by key policymakers. The topic of affordable housing is becoming increasingly prevalent on the 2020 presidential campaign trails. We now have a tremendous opportunity to implement bold federal housing policy solutions that will fund affordable housing programs at the scale necessary.”
A copy of the Out of Reach 2019 report is available at: https://reports.nlihc.org/sites/default/files/oor/OOR_2019.pdf
For additional information, visit: http://www.nlihc.org/oor
ACHANGE| Terre McLendon, Secretary | achange.org