December 18, 2017

Report finds Vermont housing out of reach

The Vermont Affordable Housing Coalition, along with the National Low Income Housing Coalition, released its 2017 Housing Wage report last week, revealing that a Vermont renter needs to earn $21.90 an hour — or $45,500 a year — in order to afford a two-bedroom apartment in the state.

The “housing wage” is the hourly wage a family must earn, working 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year, to be able to afford the rent and utilities for a home in the private housing market (affordable is defined as paying no more than 30 percent of income). The Out of Reach report identifies the housing wage for all states, counties and metropolitan areas in the country.

The mean renter wage in Vermont is $12.51 an hour, according to the report. That allows $650 a month for housing costs. The average statewide market rent for a two-bedroom apartment is $1,139.

At Vermont’s current minimum wage, individuals would need to work 88 hours per week, or 2.2 full-time jobs, to afford a two-bedroom rental home, the report finds.

“It is no secret that – because of an economy that is rigged for the benefit of the very rich – wages for most working families have been stagnant for several decades,” Sen. Bernie Sanders said in a press release announcing the report. “Millions of Americans are struggling to get by, working longer hours at lower wages, while the cost of housing keeps going up.

“Here in Vermont, far too many households pay more than 50 percent of their limited incomes to keep a roof over their heads, leaving little for other necessities like food, clothing, heat and medicine. As a country, we must reorder our national priorities, and that includes investing more in decent and permanently affordable housing for working families.”

Key federal programs like HOME, Section 8 Vouchers, and Community Development Block Grants are now under serious threat in the Trump administration’s recent budget proposal, according to the Vermont Affordable Housing Coalition.

“Today’s report shows how far we still have to go to put affordable housing in reach for all of Vermont’s families,” said Congressman Peter Welch. “The numbers make it very clear that the president’s budget proposal to drastically slash funding for affordable housing programs and services is a step in the wrong direction. This is an area that is in need of significantly more resources for the most vulnerable Vermonters, not less.”

Additional findings of the Out of Reach report:

The national housing wage is $21.21.

Vermont has the fifth largest affordability gap for renters of any state in the nation.

Vermont is the seventh most expensive state for rural areas.

Vermont is the 13th most expensive state in the nation for renters.

The housing wage in the greater Burlington area is $26.83, almost $5 an hour higher than the state average.

Someone with a disability living on Supplemental Security Income can only afford $236 a month for housing.

For additional Vermont information, visitvtaffordablehousing.org.

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