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  THE LOW INCOME & URBAN HOUSING BLOG  

Friday, March 22, 2013

In Some Cities, Affordable Housing Is Not So... Well, Affordable

Affordable Housing Expensive

In some cities, affordable housing is not so affordable. Let's consider, for example, Nashville, Tennessee, where for every 100 households with extremely low income, there are only about 30 rental units available that they can afford. The problem isn't that rental units aren't being built, but that new rental apartments can only be afforded by high-income households. This leaves more than 30 percent of extremely low-income families out in the cold.

There is a noticeable disparity between the price of rental apartments and the income level of poorer families. Twenty-nine percent of households in Nashville who rent live below the poverty level. The National Low Income Housing Coalition reports that with minimum wage in Tennessee at $7.25 per hour, and the price of a two-bedroom apartment at $720 a month, that wage earner would need to work 76 hours per week, 52 weeks per year just to afford the rent.

The problem is not as simple as looking outside the metro area for more affordable housing. This would require more travel time, more transportation expense, and most likely still require working more hours. For a minimum wage earner making $7.25 per hour, that's a long distance to the $15.75 per hour needed to afford a two-bedroom apartment.

This situation needs to be changed and is a constant focus for the National Low Income Housing Coalition. Every year, they study markets and publish what is known as the housing wage, or the wage one must earn in order to afford a modest rental home in communities across the country. This information is then presented to Congress, state legislators, and city officials to help them see how low-income families are being affected by the affordable housing squeeze.

Learn more about the Low Income Housing Coalition at www.nlihc.org
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