Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Recession Over, But Renters Still Waiting for Recovery

According to a national report released Monday, the hourly wage a family must earn – working 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year – to be able to afford the rent and utilities for a safe and modest home in the private housing market in Colorado is among the highest in the country. Colorado ’s Housing Wage, that amount a family must earn on average in the State to afford housing, is $17.76 an hour.

“Hardworking people should be able to afford housing and also be able to feed their families. Our seniors, people with disabilities including people who have served as veterans in our armed services and our most vulnerable citizens should be able to live in a safe home they can afford on limited income. It’s only fair. This report as well as a recent report from the Joint Center on Housing Studies at Harvard University confirms that isn’t happening in community after community in Colorado ,” said Nancy Engelken, Executive Director of Housing Colorado.

The report, Out of Reach 2011, was jointly released by the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC), a Washington, D.C.-based housing policy organization, and Housing Colorado. The report provides the Housing Wage and other housing affordability data for every state, metropolitan area, combined non metropolitan area, and county in the country.

“Housing costs are due, in full, at the beginning of every month so the price of housing determines how well individuals and families can afford to pay for other basic needs like food, health care and transportation to jobs,” notes Engelken. “In Garfield County , rental housing costs have gone up 72% in 10 years; in Moffat County , those costs have gone up 62%. This is a community issue and a jobs issue. You need to work multiple jobs to afford housing in rural and urban areas in Colorado – what do you do if you’re disabled, a single parent, or a senior on social security? Small and large businesses don’t thrive because their workers move frequently and they are always retraining their workforce, people who work hard can’t find a decent place to live and have to commute long distances, children are uprooted from schools and friends, and our communities suffer.”

A Colorado Department of Local Affairs – Division of Housing Study in 2010 indicates Colorado has about half the number of rental housing units it needs to serve lower income households. The “State of the Nation’s Housing 2010” Report issued by the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University last week shows almost 25% of Colorado renters pay more than 50% of their income on housing. Because these renter households spend so much of their income on housing, they may not be able to afford adequate food, health care, and clothing and they are at increased risk of homelessness in the event of an emergency that impacts the family budget. Families that spend high amounts of monthly income on housing move more frequently with direct negative effects on children’s school performance.

In Colorado , the estimated mean (average) wage for a renter is $13.46. In order to afford the Fair Market Rent for a two-bedroom apartment at this wage, a renter must work 53 hours per week, 52 weeks per year.

To see local rent and wage data calculated for all Colorado jurisdictions:

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