Paying the Rent

| February 6, 2002

Paying the Rent

In the depths of our current recession, more Americans are finding themselves unable to make rent. It doesn't help that a full-time, minimum-wage worker cannot afford 'fair market' rental housing anywhere in the U.S., according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC).

ForLiP magazine, reporter Silja J.A. Talvi describes the plight of Kristina Oskierko to demonstrate the challenges of paying rent in a post 9/11 economy. A single mother, Oskierko was laid off from her position at O'Hare airport, and now finds that jobs are hard to come by and that wages are inadequate to cover medical insurance and housing expenses.

Talvi points out that even workers who have steady employment still may have trouble finding affordable housing amidst 'soaring national housing costs.' According to NLIHC: '[I]n order to afford the median fair market rent for a two-bedroom rental unit, a worker would have to earn a housing wage of $13.87, or 269 percent of the federal minimum wage.' Housing wage is defined as the hourly rate a full-time employee would have to earn so that rent would account for no more than 30 percent of their income.

To solve the widening gap between rental costs and real wages, some propose a low-rent bailout like the airline industry received.
--Sara V. Buckwitz
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Out of Reach 2001: America's Growing Wage-Rent Disparity