Report: Minimum wage workers have to work 95 hours a week to make rent in Colorado

DENVER – A new report paints a dim picture of the state of housing affordability in Colorado and around the country.

Compared to other states, Colorado has the 12th highest housing wage – the amount of money a person needs to make in order to be able to afford rent – according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

With a statewide fair-market price of $1,143 per month for a 2-bedroom apartment, a person would need to make $21.97 per hour, working 40 hours each week, in order to avoid spending more than 30 percent of their income on rent, according to the report.

The 30-percent threshold is important because that’s the point at which the federal government considers someone to be “cost burdened,” meaning they will have difficulty paying for other important expenses like food, transportation and medical care.

The housing situation is even more dim for those making minimum wage. At the current hourly wage of $9.30, a worker would have to work 95 hours a week – with 2.4 full-time jobs – in order to avoid spending more than 30 percent of their income on rent. For a 1-bedroom, a minimum wage worker would need to log 75 hours per week.

The average wage of renters in Colorado is $17.13 per hour. At that wage, a person still needs to work more than one full time job to afford a 2-bedroom apartment at fair market rates.

Unsurprisingly, Denver is one of the most expensive places for renters in Colorado. Workers here need to earn at least $25.10 per hour to make rent on a 2-bedroom. Boulder follows closely behind at $23.85.

The chart below shows how much a worker would have to make in each metropolitan area in order to afford a 2-bedroom rental at fair market price:

 

It’s not just Colorado: A full-time employee making minimum wage cannot afford a fair-market 2-bedroom rental anywhere in the United States. Hawaii claims the title of most expensive state, with a housing wage of $35.20 per hour, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

For more information, log on to nlihc.org/oor.

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