Rental housing prices continue to rise in Washington, making two-bedroom apartments too expensive for people making the minimum wage, according to a study released in March.
In Washington, workers need to earn at least $18.65 an hour to afford a two-bedroom apartment, according to “Out of Reach,” an annual study by the National Low Income Housing Coalition. This makes Washington the 16th most expensive state in the country for housing. In 2013 workers needed to earn $18.58 an hour according to last year’s report.
Housing is more expensive in some areas of the state. A renter would need to earn $21.60 an hour to rent a two-bedroom apartment in the Seattle metropolitan area, where apartments run $1,123 a month on average, according to the report.
“Housing in Seattle and across all of Washington is still unaffordable for a large number of people,” said Rachael Myers, executive director of the Washington Low Income Housing Alliance, which participated in the Out of Reach study.
The report compares wages and rent costs in every county and metropolitan area in every state in the United States.
In each location, the NLIHC calculates the amount of money necessary for a household to afford a typical renter’s unit without paying more than 30 percent of their income — what is known as a fair market rent.
The minimum wage in Washington, $9.19 per hour, is less than half of what a renter needs to be able to afford a two-bedroom apartment. In most areas, people would need to work more than one minimum-wage job to afford housing.
In metropolitan areas such as Seattle, Tacoma and Bremerton, people making the minimum wage would have to work 80 hours a week to afford a two-bedroom apartment.
Seattle is considering several things that could help, Myers said, including a higher minimum wage and zoning laws that would require private developers to set aside space in each building for affordable housing.