In order to afford a modest, two-bedroom apartment at Fair Market Rent in Kentucky, renters need to $14.10 per hour. This is Kentucky’s 2016 Housing Wage, revealed in a national report released on May 25. The report, Out of Reach 2016, was jointly released by the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC), a Washington, DC-based research and advocacy organization, and the Homeless & Housing Coalition of Kentucky (HHCK). HHCK serves as NLIHC State Coalition Partner for Kentucky.
Every year, Out of Reach reports on the Housing Wage for all states, counties, and metropolitan areas in the country. The report highlights the gap between what renters earn and what it costs to afford rent at fair market value. “Too many of low income Kentuckians are housing cost burdened by their rent, forcing them to make decisions between housing, utilities, food, transportation, or health care expenses each month,” said Curtis Stauffer, HHCK’s Executive Director. “72% of renter households earning less than 30% of area median income in Kentucky are severely cost burdened, spending more than 50% of their monthly income on rent. This is over 111,000 Kentucky households.”
The federal minimum wage has remained at $7.25 an hour without an increase since 2009, generating debate and calls to raise the wage at the local, state and federal levels. In no state, even those where the minimum wage has been set above the federal standard, can a minimum wage renter working a 40 hour work week afford a one-bedroom rental unit at the average Fair Market Rent. Working at the minimum wage of $7.25 per hour in Kentucky, a family must have 1.9 wage earners working full-time, or one full-time earner working 78 hours per week, to afford a modest two-bedroom apartment at fair market rent.
The typical renter in Kentucky earns $11.46 per hour, which is $2.64 less than the hourly wage needed to afford a modest two-bedroom unit in our state.
“The Out of Reach data reflect a grim reality across the nation. There is no place in the United States where a minimum wage worker can afford a two-bedroom apartment,” said Diane Yentel, President and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition. “We as a nation must respond by investing in affordable housing for the lowest income households in America. The new national Housing Trust Fund is one solution, but it will require many more resources to address the need.”
For additional information on Out of Reach 2016, visit: http://www.nlihc.org/oor. For the Kentucky data from the report, go to http://www.nlihc.org/oor/kentucky.