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WASHINGTON, DC-A new report by the National Low Income Housing Coalition, called ‘Out of Reach,’ makes clear that the gap between minimum wages and the cost of affordable rental housing is growing even as the housing bubble bursts. Produced by the National Low Income Housing Coalition, the report finds that a person with a full-time job needs to earn an hourly housing wage of $17.84 to afford a two-bedroom rental home at the nation’s average fair market rent.

Last year the housing wage was $17.32, Sheila Crowley, NLIHC president told listeners on a conference call when the report was released Tuesday. “Once again we must report that there is no place in the country that someone earning minimum wage can afford to rent,” she said. “The shortage of affordable rental homes is a long-standing structural deficit in the housing market. This shortage, coupled with the recession, promises to increase homelessness at a rate we haven’t seen since the 1980s.”

With affordable housing pegged at an hourly wage of $17.84, minimum wage earners are clearly out of luck. The federal minimum wage is $6.55, requiring a household to work 109 hours a week to afford an average two-bedroom home. The price of housing, though, puts an apartment out of reach to many other workers as well, NLIHC also noted: in 2009, the estimated median wage for workers in America is $16.03.

To get a sense of how a housing wage translates from a general salary, consider the market rates in New York City. Fair market rent for a two-bedroom apartment is $1,207, NLIHC says. In order to afford this level of rent and utilities, without paying more than 30% of income on housing, a household must earn $4,024 monthly or $48,282 annually. Assuming a 40-hour workweek, 52 weeks per year, this level of income translates into a housing wage of $23.21.

In DC, the fair market rent for a two-bedroom apartment is $1,288. A household must earn $4,293 monthly or $51,520 annually, which translates into a Housing Wage of $24.77. In San Francisco, those numbers are $1,291 average for an apartment, with a housing wage of $24.83.

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