Foreclosure crisis hurts renters, too
Foreclosures might help if you’re looking to buy a home, but for many renters, things have only gotten harder.
According to an annual report from the National Low Income Housing Coalition, rents are less affordable for Washington’s workers this year.
“In a time of a slow economy, when everyone is assuming the costs for things go down, we’re seeing costs for things like housing becoming even more out of reach,” said Rachael Myers, executive director of the Washington Low Income Housing Alliance, the group’s local affiliate.
A worker in Washington must earn $19.10 an hour, or nearly $40,000 a year, to swing what’s considered the average rent of a modest two-bedroom apartment at $993, according to the report, “Out of Reach 2011.”
That’s an 8 percent increase from what it took to afford the same rent in 2010 and well above the $13.96 that the report says a typical Washington renter earns.
In the metropolitan Seattle-Bellevue area, where housing prices are higher, the average rent of a two-bedroom apartment is $1,176, according to the report. That requires a wage of $22.62 an hour, a jump of 11 percent in just one year. The typical renter in Seattle earns $17.17 an hour. To rent a studio, which now averages $857, a Seattle renter needs to earn $16.48 an hour.
For those who earn the state minimum wage of $8.67 an hour, renting a two-bedroom apartment requires more than two wage earners across the state, Myers said.
The figures are based on renters paying no more than 30 percent of their household income in rent for a two-bedroom apartment. The $22.62 an hour it takes to rent a two-bedroom in Seattle is the state’s highest “housing wage” mark.
The average wage needed to rent a two-bedroom in the state’s non-metropolitan areas is $14.27.
The report estimates that more than half of Washington’s renters do not earn enough to afford a two-bedroom unit.
Statistics from the King County “Housing Benchmarks” report, last updated in spring of 2009, show only 36 percent of the private rental units in the county were affordable to people earning $33,903, or half the county’s median income. Just 9 percent of the county’s private rentals were affordable to people earning $20,341, or one-third of the county median.
When you consider the aforementioned, and factor in 300 lousy weather days per year, a warm beach at half the price starts lookin’ real good.
Recent foreclosure victim, you are welcome to my studio. I’ve got a feeling you’re going to need it sooner than later.
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