DENVER-For the second consecutive year, a national study ranked Colorado No. 10 for the least affordable rental housing in the nation.And according to the Washington, DC-based National Low Income Housing Coalition, this marks the third year that Colorado was ranked in the top 10 for the least affordable apartments since in 2001, when Colorado ranked No. 8.

In order to afford the average two-bedroom apartment in Colorado, a household needs to earn $16.29 per hour, from September 2002 and September 2003, according to the report.The national average need is $15.21.

The study found that in Colorado, a household earning $18,970, or 30% of the statewide area median income of $63,235, could afford a monthly rent of no more than $474. The fair market rent for a two-bedroom unit is $847.The report also finds that in Colorado, a worker earning the minimum wage of $4.15 per hour must work 127 hours per week in order to afford a two-bedroom unit at the state’s median Fair Market Rate.

A rule of thumb is that individuals and families should not spend more than 30% of their gross income for their housing costs. Otherwise, it is more difficult to afford other necessities such as food, clothing, transportation and medical care.

Sister Lillian Murphy, president and CEO of locally based Mercy Housing, one of the nation’s leading affordable housing developers, says the report “verifies the universal belief among affordable housing developers that the situation is continuing to worsen and continued cuts in federal social programs will only make it worse. It is my hope that the $87 million that President Bush requested for homeland security and the rebuilding of Iraq and Afghanistan will not further erode the funding available for affordable housing and other social programs for those who are economically poor in this country.”

The report shows that Massachusetts is the least affordable state for rental housing. California, New Jersey, New York, Maryland, Connecticut, Hawaii, Alaska, New Hampshire and Colorado follow it.

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