In Massachusetts, the gap between the amount of money workers would need to earn in order to comfortably afford rent and the amount they actually earn is one of the largest in the country, according to a recent National Low Income Housing Coalition report.
To afford a two-bedroom unit at a modest rate in Massachusetts ($1,347 per month), someone would need to earn $25.91 per hour, which is more than double the current $10 minimum wage. It is also more than the $18.47 average wage renters actually make in the state. The $25.91 figure represents the No. 7 highest “housing wage” in the country.
Those that make $10 per hour would need to work 104 hours per week to be able to afford a standard two-bedroom apartment, and 83 hours to afford a standard one-bedroom apartment, which the coalition pegs at $1,078 per month.
The NLIHC considers rent affordable, as do many academic and government reports, if a renter spends 30 percent or less of income on housing costs. In order to calculate the monthly rental rates, the coalition used Fair Market Rent, which it defines as “the 40th percentile of gross rents for standard rental units.”
Things also get more difficult for minimum wage renters in the Boston-Cambridge-Quincy area, where the housing wage is $30.13 per hour and the Fair Market Rent for a two-bedroom is $1,567 per month.
The annual income needed to afford a two-bedroom rent is $53,886 for the state as a whole and $62,682 for the Boston-Cambridge-Quincy area.
Though this all may sound bleak, things have actually improved since last year’s report, when minimum wage earners needed to work 110 hours a week to afford a two-bedroom apartment in the state. Minimum wage last year was also $9 instead of $10.