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Report Targets Unaffordability Of Rent For Minimum Wage Earners


In Illinois, somebody being paid minimum wage would have to work 99 hours a week to afford the average two-bedroom apartment. That means an individual would have to earn more than $20 an hour to be able to pay for that two-bedroom apartment.

Those statistics come from a June report by the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

Illinois’ average cost for a two-bedroom apartment is just above $1,058 a month. Illinois’ minimum wage is $8.25 an hour

"People who are working full-time still cannot afford modest housing — kind of throughout the state of Illinois,’’ says Sharon Legenza, executive director of Housing Action Illinois, an organization that participated in creating the report. “And why are we not talking about that more, particularly when we know that there are programs that work to house people?

“Even if we were to raise the minimum wage, the gap between what the minimum wage currently is in the state and what the housing wage is for two-bedroom apartment, is so great that we have to think about the income levels but also about providing more supply so that more people can just have access to affordable housing.”

Legenza said that the situation would be helped by a boost for an assistance program formerly known as Section 8.

“If we were to increase support for housing choice vouchers — both in terms of the dollars that are going into the budget for that as well as community acceptance — that could go a long way to helping house people in affordable homes.

The state with highest wage needed to rent that two-bedroom home is Hawaii, while the lowest in Arkansan. Illinois ranks 18th.

Find the report here. http://nlihc.org/oor. 

Maureen Foertsch McKinney is lead editor of Illinois Issues' feature articles, working with freelance writers, and covering the equity beat. Maureen joined the Illinois Issues in 1998 as projects editor. Previously, she worked at three Illinois daily newspapers, most recently the suburban Chicago-based Daily Herald, where she served stints as an education reporter and copy editor. She graduated in 1985 with a bachelor's in journalism. She also has a master's degree in English from the University of Illinois at Springfield.
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