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Study shows rental housing struggles in the Youngstown-Warren area

The cost of renting isn't keeping pace with wages

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) - A new study published by the National Low Income Housing Coalition shows that Ohio workers would need to make almost double the minimum wage to rent a two-bedroom apartment. 

Even a one-bedroom apartment at minimum wage would force a worker to supplement their income with a part-time job or extra hours to make the rent payment not exceed the standard budgetary guideline of 30 percent of total income. 

In Ohio, the fair market rent (FMR) for a two-bedroom apartment is $793. That would require an annual income of $31,723 or $15.25 an hour. FMR Rent for a one-bedroom apartment is $619, which requires 57 hours of work per week at the minimum wage of $8.30, and the numbers are even higher in cities like Cleveland and Cincinnati. 

The average housing wage needed in the Youngstown-Warren area $13.17 per hour. The FMR price for a two-bedroom apartment in the area is $695 per month. A worker would need to have 1.6 full-time jobs at minimum wage to afford housing. 

Low-wage workers have recently seen modest wage growth as the economy has improved, according to the report, but wages still remain too low for many workers to afford rental homes at the fair market rents. 

According to the study, low-wage work is expected to grow over the next 10 years, but seven of the ten occupations are expected to provide a median wage that is lower than the housing wage. Many of the jobs are in the service sector.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics says the biggest increase will be with personal care aides. Their median hourly wage is $11.32. The three occupations with the greatest projected growth that pay a median wage higher than the housing wage are general operations managers, software developers and registered nurses. 

The number of renters has increased by nearly 10 million since 2005, but most new rental construction over the past ten years has been geared toward the high end of the rental market.

According to the Joint Center for Housing Studies, the number of homes renting for $2,000 or more per month increased by 97 percent from 2005 to 2015. At the same time, homes renting for less than $800 per month declined by two percent. 

Most low-income renters rely on older structures that become more affordable over time but there isn't enough of that type of housing to go around. 


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