March 12, 2013. Renters in North Carolina need to earn $14.17 per hour in order to afford a basic apartment here, according to a report released today that compares the cost of rental housing with what renters can really afford.
For Watauga County, the housing wage is a tad bit higher. The living wage necessary to afford a two-bedroom apartment is $15.50. According to the new report, Watauga County housing costs continue to rise. A two-bedroom apartment at the fair-market rate in Watauga County costs $806 per month currently. Compare to 2011, when a two-bedroom apartment cost $749 per month and in 2012, when a two-bedroom apartment cost $781 per month.
Watauga County is one of six counties, where a person earning the county’s mean hourly wage ($7.55) would have to work more than two full-time jobs to afford a two bedroom apartment at the fair-market rent.
The report, Out of Reach 2013, was jointly released by the National Low Income Housing Coalition, a Washington, D.C.-based research and advocacy organization, and the North Carolina Housing Coalition. 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. The Housing Wage is 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.
“More people in North Carolina are renting now because they see it as a less expensive option than owning a home,” said Satana Deberry, Executive Director of the North Carolina Housing Coalition. “But that means the low-wage workers who have always relied on rental housing are getting squeezed out of the hot rental market.”
Working at the minimum wage in North Carolina, a family must have 2 wage earners working full-time, or one full-time earner working at 78 hours per week, to afford a modest two-bedroom apartment.
The typical renter in North Carolina earns $12.55 which is $1.62 less than the hourly wage needed to afford a modest unit.
The National Housing Wage is $18.79 in 2013.
Sheila Crowley, President and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, says that there is a role the federal government can play in easing the financial strain faced by low income renters. “The federal government has used the tax code to make homeownership easier. In reality, the benefits are largely going to higher income people with million-dollar homes. It’s time to make housing policy work better for middle and lower income people by reforming mortgage interest tax breaks and directing the savings to the National Housing Trust Fund to build and preserve rental homes affordable to the lowest income Americans.”
For over 25 years, the award-wining North Carolina Housing Trust Fund has financed nearly 25,000 safe, quality, affordable homes and apartments, mostly for very low income families. It has created thousands of much-needed construction jobs and generated millions in local and state tax revenue. As the state readies itself for another contentious legislative session, housing advocates are urging lawmakers to strengthen the NC Housing Trust Fund, a program with historic bi-partisan support that can help preserve and develop new affordable rental housing and strengthen communities across the state.
An estimated 52 percent of renters in North Carolina do not earn enough to afford a two-bedroom unit at the Fair Market Rent.
Additional Facts about North Carolina:
- North Carolinians across the state receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) can only afford to pay $213 per month in rent.
- The Housing Wage in the Raleigh-Cary metropolitan area is $16.88.
- The Housing Wage in the Charlotte-Gastonia-Concord metropolitan area is $15.25.
- The Housing Wage in the Asheville metropolitan area is $14.94.
- The Housing Wage in the Wilmington metropolitan area is $$15.69.
- For additional information, visit http://www.nlihc.org/oor/2013
The mission of the North Carolina Housing Coalition is to lead a movement to ensure that every North Carolinian has a home in which to live with dignity and opportunity.