SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) -- A report from a non-profit group that advocates for affordable housing shows a worker would need to earn nearly $70 an hour - or work nearly five minimum wage jobs - to afford a two-bedroom apartment in San Francisco, the priciest metropolitan area in the country.
The National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) on Wednesday released its 2021 Out of Reach report on the cost of housing across the country, showing California being the most expensive state to live in terms of housing wages. The average California resident would need to earn $39.03 an hour (working 40 hours per week, 52 weeks per year) in order to rent a two bedroom home without paying more than 30% of income on rent, according to the report.
Download: NLIHC 2021 Out of Reach Report
San Francisco metro area residents would need to earn $68.33 to afford the two bedroom home under the same criteria. The housing wage in the San Jose metropolitan area and the Oakland-Fremont metropolitan area was $58.67 and $45.83, respectively.
The report also said California is home to all 10 of the most expensive metropolitan counties in the nation, with eight of them being in the Bay Area.
California was followed by Hawaii, Massachusetts, New York and New Jersey as the top five highest housing wages needed for a two-bedroom fair market rental. The least expensive states were Kentucky, South Dakota, Mississippi, West Virginia and Arkansas.
The study also indicated the COVID pandemic underscored the need for the U.S. to have a stronger housing safety net. The report cited statistics from the U.S. Housing and Urban Development Department showing the during the peak of the crisis when people were being urged to stay home and maintain social distancing, nearly 600,000 people were on the or shelters experiencing homelessness.
The report also illustrated how rents continue to rise even as wages remain stagnant across the country, including the federal and local minimum wages. A 2019 study showed that in 45 states and the District of Columbia, median gross rents increased faster than median renter household income between 2001 and 2018.
"In no state, metropolitan area, or county in the U.S. can a worker earning the federal or prevailing state or local minimum wage afford a modest two-bedroom rental home at fair market rent by working a standard 40-hour work week," the report's authors said.
The report noted that housing unaffordability for low-wage workers disproportionately impacts people of color, and that income inequality along racial lines is the product of historical and ongoing systemic racism affecting Black, Latino and Native American workers. It called for greater enforcement of the Fair Housing Act to reduce discrimination based on race and ethnicity, as well as expansion of enforcement to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity and marital status.
The authors said addressing the roots of the housing affordability problem requires a sustained commitment to universal rental assistance, investments in new affordable for the lowest-income people, and strong renter protections and assistance that can be scaled up automatically during crises.
The report called on Congress to expand access to rental assistance to every eligible household under a voucher program that would cover housing costs beyond a 30% threshold. Authors also said Congress needs to invest in expanding the supply of homes affordable to the lowest-income people and the rehabilitation of existing public housing.
"A return to a pre-pandemic status quo would fail the millions of renters who could not afford their rent even in a better economic climate," the report concluded. "As the country looks to recover from the pandemic and economic crisis, the time is ripe to make meaningful and long-lasting structural changes to ensure low-wage workers and the most marginalized people have stable, affordable homes."
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