New report: Low-wage workers squeezed out of affordable rental housing

This is from a release distributed this morning by the North Carolina Housing Coalition:

High rents make housing unaffordable for many in Raleigh-Cary

Raleigh, N.C. –Renters in the Raleigh-Cary area need to earn $16.88 per hour in order to afford a basic apartment here, according to a report released today that compares the cost of rental housing with what renters can really afford.

The report, Out of Reach 2013, was jointly released by the National Low Income Housing Coalition, a Washington, D.C.-based research and advocacy organization, and the North Carolina Housing Coalition. The report provides the Housing Wage and other housing affordability data for every state, metropolitan area, combined non metropolitan area, and county in the country. 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 safe and modest home in the private housing market.

“More people in the Raleigh-Cary area are renting now because they see it as a less expensive option than owning a home,” said Satana Deberry, Executive Director of the North Carolina Housing Coalition. “But that means the low-wage workers who have always relied on rental housing are getting squeezed out of the hot rental market.”

Working at the minimum wage in Raleigh-Cary, a family must have 2 wage earners working full-time, or one full-time earner working 93 hours to afford a modest two-bedroom apartment. 

The typical renter in Raleigh-Cary earns $12.98, which is $3.90 less than the hourly wage needed to afford a modest unit.

The National Housing Wage is $18.79 in 2013.

Sheila Crowley, President and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, says that there is a role the federal government can play in easing the financial strain faced by low income renters. “The federal government has used the tax code to make homeownership easier. In reality, the benefits are largely going to higher income people with million-dollar homes. It’s time to make housing policy work better for middle and lower income people by reforming mortgage interest tax breaks and directing the savings to the National Housing Trust Fund to build and preserve rental homes affordable to the lowest income Americans.”

For over 25 years, the award-wining North Carolina Housing Trust Fund has financed nearly 25,000 safe, quality, affordable homes and apartments, mostly for very low income families.  It has created thousands of much-needed construction jobs and generated millions in local and state tax revenue. As the state readies itself for another contentious legislative session, housing advocates are urging lawmakers to strengthen the NC Housing Trust Fund, a program with historic bi-partisan support that can help preserve and develop new affordable rental housing and strengthen communities across the state.

An estimated 52% of renters in Raleigh-Cary do not earn enough to afford a two-bedroom unit at the Fair Market Rent.

Additional Facts about the Triangle area:

  • 33% of all households in Wake County are renters.
  • The Housing Wage in Johnston County is $16.88.
  • The Housing Wage in Durham County is $16.13.
  • The Housing Wage in Orange County is $16.13.
  • In Wake County, the cost of a two-bedroom apartment at Fair Market Rent is $878.

Households at 30% of area median income in the Raleigh-Cary metropolitan area can only afford to pay $565 in rent.

Additional Facts about North Carolina:

  • The typical renter in North Carolina earns $12.55 per hour, which is $1.62 less than the hourly wage needed to afford a modest unit.  
  • North Carolinians across the state receiving Supplemental Security Income (SSI) can only afford to pay $213 per month in rent.
  • The Housing Wage in the Wilmington metropolitan area is $$15.69.
  • The Housing Wage in the Charlotte-Gastonia-Concord metropolitan area is $15.25.

For additional information, visit http://www.nlihc.org/oor/2013


  1. Doug

    March 12, 2013 at 1:05 pm

    It is a sad thing, but when you have to pay all the costs of the government meddling in your rental business, onerous taxes and fees, the damage that is caused by your typical uncaring renter, high insurance rates, and on and on. You have little room to make a profit and afford to have low rents. Unless you want to run a slum….then this blog would be crucifying you on that end too.

  2. Alex

    March 13, 2013 at 4:49 pm

    The government provided low income housing for years, and the tenants quickly trashed most of them.

  3. Lew

    March 13, 2013 at 9:25 pm

    At least it was all in one place so you knew what part of town to avoid.

  4. Domonick Weaver

    March 22, 2013 at 4:59 pm

    Honestly, I think that anyone that has the money to have a life up in the Triangle, Charolette or Wilimington have better choices than what’s available here in the Sandhills. Granted, most property owners are a bit slow when doing repairs, but they also seem to get sensitive about the renter’s situation. I can even play devil’s advocate on this: alot of renters will lie.

    i honestly believe that we need to willing (speaking as a renter) to purchase renter’s insurance just as we would car insurance. You have homeowner’s insurance, so why not? it covers your a**, the owner’s a**, and all the a**es that get in between. Plus, if you’re working and something happens, you can use that insurance ( if you have the option) and get additional monies for un-employment, bad situation, or whatever. It’s just depending on what money do you have to give to those possibilities. Let’s face it: compared to 15 years ago there is a lot more choices in renter protection. We just need to complaining and dish out for the additional stuff. I know. I live in Cumberland County. And it gets jumping around here during Christmas when the thieves hit the streets. So just get the insurance. You’ll be happy you did.

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