Out of Reach 2020: The wage gap of renters and what it costs for housing

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SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) -Out of Reach 2020 calls attention to the gulf between actual wages and what people need to earn to afford their rents. Every year, the report documents that an affordable rental home is out of reach for millions of low-wage workers and other low-income families.

This year’s report affirms that even before the massive economic downturn caused by the coronavirus pandemic, housing costs outpaced what many workers could afford. The report notes that in order to afford a modest, two-bedroom apartment at fair market rent in Utah, full-time workers need to earn $19.83 per hour.

Mayor Erin Mendenhall started off the meeting by talking about wages. She said,

“This year the outer reach report has been issued at a time the Coronavirus has so deeply impacted job security and housing across the country and certainly here in Utah and Salt Lake City….to have a modest 2 bedroom apartment in Salt Lake City full time workers need to make $19.83 per hour, for Salt Lake County, the second most expensive area in the state that wage increases $22.62 per hour. But, minimum wage in Utah is $7.25 per hour and the average renter’s wage today is $14.94. An individual would need to work 109 hours a week to afford a 2 bedroom home earning minimum wage that is 2.7 full-time jobs.”

The mayor pointed out the federal minimum wage has stayed the same since 2009, not keeping pace with the rise in the cost of housing.

One of the more shocking facts Mayor Mendenhall mentioned was that across the country prior to the pandemic that 7.7 million low income renters were spending more than half of their limited incomes on housing costs. They live by sacrificing other necessities. She pointed out there are no places in the country at fair market value where low income renters cannot pay less than 50% of their income on housing.

Locally it is harder to find affordable housing in Salt Lake City, the Mayor mentioned they have to work harder to provide the opportunity for housing.

Housing complexes that provide “bundles” where renters have to pay for services they cannot afford was also cited as a possible place to help cut costs.

You can watch the entire meeting and discussion with the following community leaders in the above video.

Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall

Patrice Dickson, Chief Operations Officer of Social Services  |  Utah Community Action

Michelle Flynn, Executive Director  |   Road Home

Tara Rollins, Executive Director  |  Utah Housing Coalition

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