Affordable Housing a Challenge for Minimum Wage Earners

Jun 20, 2017

A new study finds minimum wage fails to pay the rent in Illinois.  

Rental housing costs vary across the state, but there is no place where it's affordable to someone earning the minimum wage of $8.25 an hour. Bob Palmer, Policy Director for Housing Action Illinois, says the numbers show a problem that can lead to more homelessness.

"But for most people, what they do is they just wind up spending a high percentage of their  income on rent.  If you're an extremely low income household, chances are you're probably paying in excess of 50 percent of your income just to keep a roof over your head."

He says the situation has worsened since the foreclosure crisis.

"There's been an uptick in the percentage of all households who are renters and that's essentially created more competition for rental units."

Palmer says a tight rental market is making the situation worse as costs are going up.  In rural areas, what's known as the housing wage on average is over $12.50 an hour for a modest two bedroom apartment.  It's nearly double that in the Chicago area.  Palmer's group is pushing for a minimum wage increase.

Palmer says President Trump's budget could add to the problem with proposed cuts to rental assistance programs.