By Christina Sturgis
Ohio compares well with other states in a nationwide analysis of rental prices published by the National Low Income Housing Coalition, but keeping housing costs below 30 percent of monthly income is still a struggle for many households at the bottom of the income ladder.
The coalition states a substantial increase in the minimum wage would greatly improve the situation.
“Raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour would benefit millions of low income Americans; however, it unfortunately would an insufficient response to America’s housing affordability crisis,” said NLIHC President and CEO Sheila Crowley.
In the report , “Out of Reach: 2014” the coalition computes the hourly wage needed to pay for a two-bedroom apartment in the 50 states plus Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico and ranked them starting the most expensive. Ohio comes in at 39th with a housing wage of $13.79, considerably less than top-ranked Hawaii at $32.14.
Rounding out the top five are California at $25.78, New York at $25.25 and New Jersey at $24.84. The five places with the lowest housing wages are Puerto Rico ($10.41), North Dakota ($12.06), West Virginia ($12.35), Kentucky ($12.71) and Arkansas ($12.76).
The coalition figures that the fair market rent for a two-bedroom apartment in Ohio is $717 and to afford it without paying more than 30 percent of income for rent, a household must earn $2,390 per month, work 40 hours per week and work all 52 weeks of the year.
Streetsboro in Portage County has a higher rental cost, about $750 per month.
However, at the Ohio minimum wage of $7.85, the household must either have one wage earner working 70 hours or divide the hours between two people. Using these calculations, the coalition finds that someone earning the average (mean) wage for a renter, which is $11.26, the household will still have a gap of $132 that may force them to spend more than 30 percent of income for housing, cutting into budgets for other necessities.