BOISE, Idaho — The most common jobs in Idaho do not pay a sufficient median wage to afford a fair-market-rent apartment, according to a data analysis by the Idaho Asset Building Network (IABN).
To afford a fair-market apartment, averaged across the whole state, the analysis says one has to make $17.36 per hour.
The most recent and up-to-date numbers are from 2019, but IABN says they have also been tracking these numbers for the past three years. With the most recent data, not even one of the five most popular jobs in Idaho can afford fair-market rent.
Further, rent has increased two times faster than wages over the past 30 years according to IABN.
Virginia Wilson in Boise has learned this the hard way. She has lived at Edgewater Apartments, just off West State Street, for three years and when she renews her lease next calendar year, her rent will increase by $500.
"It's going to be stretching into our grocery budget. You know, we're coming into Christmas and, you know, it's like, 'Merry Christmas.' It's a tough year," Wilson said.
She lives with her son and daughter-in-law. However, the trio is still struggling to make ends meet.
"The kids ended up with COVID. So that put them out of work," Wilson said. "So we used all of our means that we had saved to cover so we wouldn't lose the apartment, and now we're in a spot where we don't have anything saved if we wanted to move."
The City of Boise is already looking to tackle this issue, but a housing needs analysis from August revealed that Boise needs 27,000 new affordable housing units in the next ten years. The city anticipates this project will cost $5 billion.
The depth of Idaho's housing crisis has no easy or quick fix, and that just leaves regular everyday people like Wilson stuck paying rent on units they can't afford.
"We have no choice," Virginia said. "It's going to be a tough year. But we're not set to move out. We just aren't."
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