Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Editorial: Housing Is Far Too Expensive

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Editorial: Housing Is Far Too Expensive

Article excerpt

The gap between how much low-income Americans earn and the amount they pay for housing is painfully narrow. According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, "Families who pay more than 30 percent of their income for housing are considered cost burdened and may have difficulty affording necessities such as food, clothing, transportation and medical care." By this standard, there isn't a single state in the U.S. where full-time, minimum wage workers can afford a two-bedroom apartment or home.

Every year, the National Low Income Housing Coalition releases its "Out of Reach" report on the affordability of housing in the U.S. In 2017, NLIHC's findings expose how difficult it has become for low-income Americans to find an inexpensive place to live anywhere in the country. To pay for a two-bedroom rental home, the average worker has to earn $21.21 -- almost three times the federal minimum wage ($7.25 per hour). Even a one-bedroom rental requires the tenant to earn $17.14 -- 2.4 times the minimum wage. This means minimum wage workers must "work 117 hours per week for all 52 weeks of the year to afford a two-bedroom rental home or 94.5 hours per week for a one-bedroom rental home."

While Kansas ranks 37th in the country for housing affordability, renters have to make $15.59 per hour if they want to live in a two-bedroom home without paying an onerous share of their income. The cost of renting in Topeka is slightly lower than the state average, but renters still need to earn more than twice the minimum wage. Neighboring states face the same problem, but many of them have minimum wages above the federal level (including Colorado, Nebraska and Missouri). The minimum wage in Kansas is still $7.25 -- an amount that hasn't risen since 2009. A full-time, minimum wage Kansas worker earns around $15,000 per year -- far below the federal poverty level for a family of two. …

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