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Report: Idahoans earning minimum wage must work 104 hours each week to afford two-bedroom rental

KTVB spoke with the Idaho Asset Building Network about the National Low Income Housing Coalition's recently released 'Out of Reach' report.

BOISE, Idaho — A new report from the National Low Income Housing Coalition is painting a picture of Idaho's current rental market in comparison to wages in the Gem State. 

Policy Specialist with the Idaho Asset Building Network, Angelica Moran, told KTVB the network co-releases the "Out of Reach" report with the housing coalition each year.

“The report highlights the gulf between the wages people earn and the prices of decent rental housings in every state, metropolitan area and county in the United States,” Moran said.

The network aims to connect leaders, service providers, businesses and consumers statewide, to advance policies that support all Idahoans in achieving long-term financial security. One of its main goals is to ensure all Idahoans have access to a safe and affordable home, according Moran. 

“In Idaho, the fair market rent for a two-bedroom apartment is $981. So, in order to afford this level of rent and utilities without paying more than 30% of an income, on housing, a household must earn $3,272 monthly or $39,000 annually, to afford that,” Moran said.

So, how does that stack up with the reality of what Idahoans are seeing and dealing with in today's rental market? 

“Unfortunately, it's not staying to that same level. Currently, the housing wage in Idaho is $18.87. So, that is the hourly wage a full-time worker must earn to afford a modest rental home without spending that 30% of their income," Moran said. "Right now, our minimum wage has been at $7.25 since 2009 and has not increased and the average renter in Idaho is making $16.10 an hour."

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Moran also said depending on where you go in the state, those numbers get a lot higher. 

“In the Boise area, it's around $21.50 that a renter must be making to afford a rental unit," Moran said. "Gem County is $18.67 hour."

In order to sustain that, Moran said most people would have to have more than one job and for those working the minimum wage in our state, they would have to work 104 hours per week to afford a two-bedroom rental home. 

“It's definitely not realistic," Moran said. "When families cannot find homes with affordable rent, they're forced to pay more than they can afford on that rent and therefore, they're unable to pay for other necessities they need to ensure their household has access to important health care services and medications, nutritious food, nutritious food quality daycare, and just any other necessities of family need to ensure they're healthy and thriving."

Moran is now calling on the Gem State's elected lawmakers to take more action and support policies that will create change in Idaho and more funding to build more affordable housing in the area.

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