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DENVER-Colorado’s Housing Wage, or the income needed to afford the average two-bedroom apartment, increased by 23% between September 2000 and 2001, says a report released by the Colorado Affordable Housing Partnership and the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless. This is the largest increase of any state, according to the ”Out of Reach” report prepared annually by the National Low Income Housing Coalition of Washington, DC.

The coalition analyzes the growing gap between rental housing costs and the minimum wage. The Housing Wage rose an average of 4.61%.

Colorado ranks in the 10 top least affordable states. Families in Colorado must earn $15.23 per hour to afford a two-bedroom apartment, nearly three times the minimum wage.

”Access to affordable housing for the families that are the backbone of our economy is essential to reducing labor turnover, ensuring family stability and enhancing the quality of life of our community,” says Mindy Klowden, executive director of the Colorado Affordable Housing Partnership.

CAHP, CCH and other advocates are calling for an increase in public financing for affordable housing at the national, state and local level.

”Low-wage workers now need two or three jobs if they intend to live indoors,” says Doug Wayland, director of education and advocacy for the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless. ”That’s not acceptable to anyone. The report supports the need for increased housing assistance to minimum-wage workers and those with even lower incomes. If we’re going to be ranked in the top 10, let’s be among the first of offer lasting solutions.”

Steve Rahe, an apartment broker with CB Richard Ellis, says it is hard to evaluate the Housing Wage statistics without looking at its data. But he agrees with the groups that governments must help developers build affordable housing.

”There’s just not enough incentives to build affordable housing,” Rahe tells GlobeSt.com. He notes that many subsidized housing programs will be expiring in the coming years, and most apartment owners won’t renew them because they can do better in the market. That will mean even fewer affordable housing choices on the market, he adds.

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