In Idaho, the Fair Market Rent (FMR) for a two-bedroom apartment is $665. In order to afford this level of rent and utilities – without paying more than 30% of income on housing – a household must earn $2,218 monthly or $26,615 annually. Assuming a 40-hour work week, 52 weeks per year, this level of income translates into a Housing Wage of $12.80.
A minimum wage worker in Idaho earns an hourly wage of $7.25. In order to afford the FMR for a two-bedroom apartment, a minimum wage earner must work 71 hours per week, 52 weeks per year. Or a household must include 1.8 minimum wage earners working 40 hours per week year-round in order to make the two-bedroom FMR affordable.
Out of Reach, a report produced by the National Low Income Housing Coalition, is a side-by-side comparison of wages and rents in every county, Metropolitan Area, combined nonmetropolitan area and state in the United States. For each jurisdiction, the report calculates the amount of money a household must earn in order to afford a rental unit in a range of sizes (0, 1, 2, 3, and 4 bedrooms) at the area’s Fair Market Rent (FMR), based on the generally accepted affordability standard of paying no more than 30% of income for housing costs. From these calculations the hourly wage a worker must earn to afford the FMR for a two-bedroom home is derived. This figure is the Housing Wage.
Out of Reach 2012 demonstrates that a mismatch exists between the cost of living, the availability of rental assistance and the wages people earn day to day across the country. The Housing Wage consistently exceeds the actual wages earned by renters, in both urban and rural communities nationwide.
With more households choose renting over homeownership, the demand for affordably priced rental housing is surging, pushing rents upward and vacancy rates down. These trends have the most severe implications for extremely low income households (those earning at or below 30% of area median income). Out of Reach 2012 findings show that for extremely low income Americans, including those on fixed incomes, finding an affordable, decent apartment continues to be incredibly challenging.