In order to afford a modest, two-bedroom apartment at fair market rent in Connecticut, full-time workers need to earn $27.37 per hour. This is Connecticut’s 2021 Housing Wage, revealed in a national report released today. The report, Out of Reach, was released by the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC), a research and advocacy organization dedicated solely to achieving affordable and decent homes for people with the lowest incomes.
This year, the Out of Reach report is being released 16 months into a devastating pandemic. In addition to the lives lost, COVID-19 also created an economic crisis that pushed millions of low-wage workers out of work. The public health crisis is not over, but as the country begins to imagine life after COVID, it must also address the profound economic fallout for the lowest-income and most marginalized members of our communities. Prior to the pandemic, more than 7.6 million extremely low-income renters were already spending more than half of their limited incomes on housing costs, sacrificing other necessities to do so. After a year of job losses, furloughs, and limited hours, many of these households will be even worse off.
Across the country, a renter needs to earn $24.90 per hour to afford a modest two-bedroom rental home without spending more than 30% of their income on housing costs, or $20.40 per hour to afford a one-bedroom home. While the Housing Wage varies by state and metropolitan area, low-wage workers everywhere struggle to afford their housing.
The report ranks Connecticut as the 10th most expensive state for renters, with a Housing Wage of $27.37 per hour. Housing affordability is even more constrained in parts of Fairfield County, with an even higher Housing Wage of $37.65 per hour in the Stamford/Norwalk HMFA and $33.17 in the Danbury HMFA.
The federal minimum wage has remained at $7.25 an hour without an increase since 2009, not keeping pace with the high cost of rental housing. In no state, even those where the minimum wage has been set above the federal standard, can a minimum-wage renter working a 40-hour work week afford a modest two-bedroom rental unit at the average fair market rent. Working at the minimum wage of $12.00 in Connecticut, a wage earner must work 74 hours per week to afford a modest one-bedroom apartment or work 91 hours a week to afford a two-bedroom apartment.
The typical renter in Connecticut earns $18.23 per hour, which is $9.37/hour less than the hourly wage needed to afford a modest unit.
Click here to read the report.