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Report: Ada and Canyon County wages are too low to afford rental costs

The rental costs in the report are based on what modestly-priced rentals should be, a number that's actually far lower than current Treasure Valley rental prices.
Credit: Joey Prechtl
Rising property taxes can present a challenge to landlords who want to charge affordable rents.

BOISE, Idaho — While housing and rental costs continue to climb around Idaho and the Treasure Valley, one recently-released report says renters' wages are lagging behind in 80% of Idaho's counties and seven out of eight metro areas. 

A National Low Income Coalition study called "Out of Reach" determined the housing wage for each state, or the salary required to spend no more than 30% of your total income on housing. The study compared the housing wage to the cost of rentals to determine if there's a gap. In Idaho and the Treasure Valley, the gap is significant. 

Statewide, the required housing wage to afford a two-bedroom house is $15.47 an hour, according to fair market rent, or what NLIC says calls "an estimate of what a family moving today can expect to pay for a modestly priced rental home in a given area." In Ada and Canyon counties, people need to make $16.77 an hour to do so.

Idaho's minimum wage is $7.25 and the average renter wage is $12.87, according to the report.

RELATED: Idaho group hopes to increase the minimum wage through an initiative

The report says the fair market rent in Idaho for a one-bedroom home is $629 a month and $804 a month for a two-bedroom. By comparison, the national average fair market rent for a one-bedroom home is $970 per month and $1,194 for a two-bedroom home.

The local numbers are off by hundreds of dollars for what rental costs really are in the Treasure Valley. 

In April, median rental costs and the Zillow Rent Index for the Treasure Valley ranged from $1,130 and $1,800.  We crunched those rental costs in Boise, Eagle, Meridian, Garden City, Star, and Kuna and determine an overall average for Ada County: $1,502

Canyon County's combined average rental cost (which includes the rental costs of Nampa, Caldwell, Parma, Wilder, Melba, and Middleton) is $1,276. 

MORE: Here are the home and rental prices in each Treasure Valley city: Ada County homes hit $335K

Applying the National Low Income Housing Coalition report's tactic to those larger Treasure Valley numbers, the housing wage to afford these average rental cost in Ada County would be $28.88 an hour and $24.54 per hour in Canyon County. 

Working the average renters' wage in Ada County, a single renter would have to work 89.76 hours - each week- to have housing costs not exceed 30% of their income.

Things in Canyon County are slightly better, a minimum wage worker would only have to work 76.26 hours per week to meet that threshold.

For those keeping track, there are only 168 hours in a week.

Regardless of how the math is broken down, it is clear that wages in Idaho are having a difficult time keeping up with rising housing costs.

MORE GROWING IDAHO: ‘Just barely making it’: Boise residents struggle to stay afloat amid rising rents and plunging vacancy rates

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