Rent is too expensive for minimum-wage workers in cities around the country — but the San Francisco area stands out as particularly unattainable in a new study released this week.
To afford rent on a two-bedroom apartment in the city, a worker would need to earn $61 an hour, which translates to a salary of nearly $127,000 a year, according to the yearly “Out of Reach” report produced by the National Low Income Housing Coalition.
The minimum wage in California is around $12 an hour as of 2019. That means it would take five minimum-wage workers pooling their earnings to afford rent on a two-bedroom in San Francisco. In total, six of the 10 most costly counties for renters are in the Bay Area, CBS SF reports.
Across the rest of California, the story is less extreme: The wage needed to afford fair market rent on a two-bedroom apartment in Sacramento is $23.46, while in San Luis Obispo it’s $29.65 and in Fresno it’s $18.38.
The wage of the average renter in California is $22.79, and 45 percent of the state rents, according to the report. Working at minimum wage, the average person in California would need to put in 116 hours a week to afford the average two-bedroom rental home in the state — or 91 hours a week to afford the average one-bedroom home, the report found.
“On one hand, it’s shocking, and on one hand it’s affirming of the reality that Bay Area residents and Californians are experiencing every day,” said Amie Fishman, executive director of the Non-Profit Housing Association of California, which helped promote the report, according to the Mercury News. “The shocking part is how if you look at the nation, we are so far out in front of everyone.”
Only Hawaii beat out California as more unaffordable, with a $36.82 hourly wage required to afford a two-bedroom apartment. Click here to look up the wages needed to afford rent in your zip code.
But the gap between wages and rent is not just a problem in California and major metropolitan areas across the U.S., according to the report.
“Today, there is not one U.S. state, metropolitan area, or county in which a minimum wage worker who clocks 40 hours a week can afford a two-bedroom apartment,” CityLab’s Sarah Holder writes in a piece on the report. “And only in 28 of the country’s counties can a 40-hour-a-week minimum wage worker afford a one-bedroom.”
According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, the report authors determined the wage needed to afford rent by looking at how much someone would need to make to avoid spending more than 30 percent of his or her income on housing costs, which is “the accepted standard of affordability.”
“Our rental housing needs have worsened considerably over the past 30 years, leaving housing out of reach for millions of low-wage workers,” Diane Yentel, the group’s president and CEO, said in a statement. “We now have a tremendous opportunity to implement federal housing policy solutions to fund affordable housing programs at the scale necessary.”
House Financial Services Committee Chair Maxine Waters, D-Calif., is pushing legislation that would invest $13 billion over five years to provide more affordable housing and fight homelessness, the Mercury News reports.
“It is a crisis,” Waters said in a conference call on the report findings, according to the newspaper. “And the homelessness on the streets is a shame on our government and on our country.”