Honolulu Workers Need $39 An Hour To Afford A 2-Bedroom Rental

Marco Green
June 14, 2018

Workers earning minimum wage would have to work 74 hours per week throughout the year to afford a two-bedroom apartment.

The data gives fresher context to affordable housing fights taking place across the country. The eight failing common means of employment like food preparation ($9.40), retail salesperson ($10.41), cashiers ($9.33), laborers and freight movers ($12.66), waiters ($9.45), office clerks ($14.42), janitors ($11.59) and stock clerks ($11.65) fall below what is necessary for someone to afford a modest two bedroom apartment. The minimum wage in Arkansas is $8.50 an hour.

The report comes from the National Coalition For Low Income Housing, which says only a handful of states offer affordable housing for people making less than $15 an hour.

Statewide, Hawaii residents need to earn $36.13 per hour, or $75,150 annually to rent a two-bedroom residence - more than any other state. The state's minimum wage increased to $10.10 an hour this year.

The most expensive county in the state is Honolulu, where the "housing wage" is $39.06 per hour. And in the Boston-Cambridge-Quincy metropolitan area, almost five dollars an hour more is needed than the state figure, at $33.46 ($69,600 a year). Even now, only one in four households eligible for federal rent assistance gets it. The least expensive is Hawai'i County, at $25.42 per hour. Ohio's "housing wage" - the hourly wage a renter needs to earn to pay for a basic, two-bedroom unit - increased again this year to $15.25, with our minimum wage now sitting at $8.30. For a 2-bedroom rental, the hours needed jumps to 123 per week, the equivalent of 3 full-time jobs. It shows residents would need to earn at least $27 an hour to live in the code area that includes the Lower Garden District, much of the Central Business District and part of the Garden District, for example, while they'd need about $19.42 hourly to live in the ZIP code that includes the Lower 9th Ward, Holy Cross, Bywater and parts of Marigny and the Upper 9th Ward.

You can afford a typical 2-bedroom apartment if you make just under $33 an hour.

Then, they assign a "housing wage" to various counties or states - the amount a renter must earn hourly in order to meet that standard. When rents reach a level that the majority of extremely low income renters could afford, landlords in strong housing markets have an economic incentive to redevelop their units for higher rents.

Housing costs have continued to rise with growing demand for rental housing in the decade since the Great Recession.

According to the Joint Center for Housing Studies (2017), the number of homes renting for $2,000 or more per month increased by 97% between 2005 and 2015 with the new development of high-end apartments and rising rents of existing apartments. The number of homes renting for $2,000 or more per month almost doubled between 2005 and 2015.

"The housing crisis has reached historic heights, most negatively impacting the lowest income renters", said Diane Yentel, the coalition's CEO".

In a preface to the report, Senator Bernie Sanders writes that "wages have been stagnant for decades, while the cost of housing keeps going up". "Too often, a low-wage worker must choose between paying for rent, health care, child care and other basic necessities".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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