A person earning the District’s minimum wage of $13.25 per hour would have to work 104 hours a week to afford a two-bedroom home in the city, according to a report by the National Low Income Housing Coalition.
The report, which examined the average cost of renting in every state and the District, ranked D.C. as among the most expensive places to live.
Holding to the axiom that a person shouldn’t put more than 30 percent of wages toward housing costs, the organization found that to afford a two-bedroom home in D.C., renters would have to earn at least $34.48 per hour — nearly five times the federal minimum wage and more than 2.5 times the District’s minimum wage.
Affording a one-bedroom home would mean earning $27.75 per hour, the report added.
The report was meant to show how far “out of reach modestly priced housing is for the growing low-wage workforce,” according to the organization, by highlighting the gap between the amount of money people earn and the cost of renting.
Researchers based their calculations on the “fair-market rent,” an amount calculated by the Department of Housing and Urban Development, which determines that number by looking at the 40th percentile of rents for standard housing units in a given area. Fair-market rent data is typically used to determine the appropriate costs of voucher programs and Section 8 contracts.
Maryland was cited as one of the states with the largest gap between the average wage earned by renters and the cost of a two-bedroom apartment. Renters in Maryland earn an average of $17.51 an hour, according to the report, but to live in a two-bedroom unit and pay the requisite 30 percent of their income, they would need $11.53 more hourly.
Virginia renters need to earn about $23.69 per hour to afford a two-bedroom rental unit in the state, though that number fluctuates depending on the part of the state.
A two-bedroom apartment in D.C. was calculated to cost about $1,793 in monthly rent. To afford that, plus utilities, without spending more than 30 percent of one’s income on housing costs, the study said a household would have to earn about $5,977 monthly, or $71,720 per year before taxes.
D.C., which was included in the analysis as a state rather than a city, ranked among expensive places like New York, California and Hawaii, where people would have to earn more than $30 per hour to afford such housing.
The metropolitan area that requires renters to make the most is San Francisco, where renters need to earn $60.02 an hour to afford a two-bedroom apartment, according to the report.
“In no state, metropolitan area, or county can a worker earning the federal minimum wage or prevailing state minimum wage afford a decent two-bedroom rental home at fair market rent by working a standard 40-hour week,” the National Low Income Housing Coalition wrote. “There are just 22 counties out of more than 3,000 counties nationally where a full-time minimum-wage worker can afford a one-bedroom apartment at fair-market rent.”
Arkansas, which boasts the least expensive statewide rental market in the country, would still require nearly twice the federal minimum wage to afford a two-bedroom home. The report suggests renters there would need to earn $13.84 an hour to do so.