NC Ranks 21st in Wage to Rent Report
Raleigh, NC - The National Low Income Housing Coalition released its Out of Reach Report on Tuesday, April 14. Out of Reach is a side-by-side comparison of wages and rents in every county, metropolitan area, combined nonmetropolitan area and state in the United States. North Carolina ranks 21st in affordability behind other southern states such as South Carolina (18), Tennessee (14) and Kentucky (6).
Over the last five years we have seen a steady rise in foreclosures. However, this influx has not translated into more affordable rental homes. There is still an affordable housing crisis and it continues to worsen. Rental homes for workers with low to moderate incomes, seniors and people with disabilities are still in short supply. Over 44% of renters in North Carolina can’t afford a two-bedroom apartment at Fair Market Rent (FMR). According to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), a two-bedroom rents for $693 at FMR in North Carolina (slightly below an average unit). With the addition of utilities, an individual needs to earn approximately $13.33 per hour to afford to live there, up from $13.09 in 2008. Compared to 2008, people need to earn $500 more this year to afford the same apartment in 2009.
Chris Estes, Executive Director of the North Carolina Housing Coalition (NCHC), says “we already had an affordable rental crisis prior to the recession and foreclosure increases. The current economic situation has worsened housing affordability because more and more families are moving backwards economically. There are fewer affordable housing options for vulnerable fixed income populations. There is no county in the state where a person on full disability income (less than $8,000 a year) can afford even a one-bedroom unit without rental assistance. We must increase our investment in the NC Housing Trust Fund, housing voucher funding and the National Housing Trust Fund.”
NCHC, along with other organizations, is working to increase affordable housing options by advocating for $50 million to be appropriated to the Housing Trust Fund (HTF). This annual investment helps create homes for working families, seniors and people with disabilities. In 2008, $15.5 million dollars was allocated to the HTF which created 1,040 construction jobs and 1,260 homes and apartments. However, the General Assembly is considering cutting the HTF by $7 million dollars. This would eliminate the Housing 400 program that specifically produces rental opportunities for people with disabilities. All of HTF’s resources are used strictly for financing and construction, not administration. It funds permanent housing solutions for families leaving homelessness or domestic violence situations and Habitat for Humanity families in addition to other self-help housing programs.