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joe reynolds jos_reyn@yahoo.com
Mon, 8 Sep 2003 16:18:52 -0700 (PDT)


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U.S. National - APRents Up Over 1/3 Since '99, Study Says 
2 hours, 19 minutes ago

By GENARO C. ARMAS, Associated Press Writer 
WASHINGTON - The cost of rent and utilities for a typical two-bedroom apartment has increased more than a third since 1999, making such housing unaffordable for anyone earning minimum wage, according to a study by an advocacy group for low-income housing. 
 
A worker must earn at least $15.21 an hour to afford the average cost of $791 per month and have enough left for food and other necessities, the Washington-based National Low Income Housing Coalition said Monday. Five years ago the average cost for housing and utilities was $576. 

The federal minimum wage of $5.15 an hour, which has not increased since 1997, barely covers one-third of the housing cost, the study said. States have the discretion of setting higher minimum wages, and 11 states have done so. Alaska has the highest minimum wage at $7.15. 

With the nation's economy still struggling, coalition president Sheila Crowley said she expects more people will be forced to live in substandard housing or to move in with others. 

"I can't say there's any real good news here," Crowley said. 

Crowley criticized the Bush administration and Congress for not spending more on affordable housing. 

The Department of Housing and Urban Development (news - web sites) had no immediate comment on the report. 

In its latest budget request, HUD asked for an increase of $113 million to $2.2 billion for a program that would give communities freedom to decide how best to solve affordable housing problems, such as rehabilitation of old buildings or buying land to erect new housing. Also, HUD has proposed initiatives it says would reduce regulatory barriers for communities to develop affordable housing. 

There are about 36 million renters in the United States, comprising about one-third of all households. 

Findings from the annual report are based on the group's analysis of data from the Census Bureau (news - web sites) and HUD's calculations of fair market rents in each state, county and metropolitan area. The fair market rent is the cost of housing plus utilities. 

Each jurisdiction's "housing wage" was established by calculating how much a person must earn per hour to spend no more than 30 percent of income on housing. HUD considers housing affordable if costs do not exceed 30 percent. 

The median national housing wage of $15.21 an hour is slightly less than the median hourly wage of roughly $15.40 for a full-time U.S. worker this past July, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The coalition found that the housing wage increased 4 percent since 2002, from $14.66. 

Among states, Massachusetts had the highest housing wages in 2003 at $22.40 per hour, followed by California, New Jersey, New York and Maryland. 

As in previous years, states in the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic and West had the biggest jumps in their housing wages. It grew the most in Maryland (12 percent), followed by Virginia, California, Massachusetts and Connecticut. 

The California metropolitan areas of San Jose and San Francisco topped the list of places that required the highest housing wages at about $35 an hour. Stamford-Norwalk, Conn.; Oakland, Calif.; and Boston each had housing wages of more than $27. 

However, the study found that the housing wage in San Francisco decreased by 8.5 percent between 2002 and 2003. Crowley said this occurred partly because HUD may have adjusted downward the fair market rent for the area to account for then-lower energy costs, and partly because of a softening of rental prices in some neighborhoods. 

___ 
 


On the Net: 
National Low Income Housing Coalition: http://www.nlihc.org/index.html 
HUD: http://www.hud.gov/ 




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<DIV class=storyheadline>Rents Up Over 1/3 Since '99, Study Says </DIV>
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<P><!-- TextStart --><I><FONT size=2>By GENARO C. ARMAS, Associated Press Writer</FONT></I> 
<P>WASHINGTON - <FONT face=arial size=-1>The cost of rent and utilities for a typical two-bedroom apartment has increased more than a third since 1999, making such housing unaffordable for anyone earning minimum wage, according to a study by an advocacy group for low-income housing. </FONT>
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<P>A worker must earn at least $15.21 an hour to afford the average cost of $791 per month and have enough left for food and other necessities, the Washington-based National Low Income Housing Coalition said Monday. Five years ago the average cost for housing and utilities was $576. 
<P>
<P>The federal minimum wage of $5.15 an hour, which has not increased since 1997, barely covers one-third of the housing cost, the study said. States have the discretion of setting higher minimum wages, and 11 states have done so. Alaska has the highest minimum wage at $7.15. 
<P>
<P>With the nation's economy still struggling, coalition president Sheila Crowley said she expects more people will be forced to live in substandard housing or to move in with others. 
<P>
<P>"I can't say there's any real good news here," Crowley said. 
<P>
<P>Crowley criticized the Bush administration and Congress for not spending more on affordable housing. 
<P>
<P>The Department of Housing and Urban Development (<A href="http://us.rd.yahoo.com/DailyNews/manual/*http://search.news.yahoo.com/search/news?p=%22Department%20of%20Housing%20and%20Urban%20Development%22&amp;c=&amp;n=20&amp;yn=c&amp;c=news&amp;cs=nw">news</A> - <A href="http://us.rd.yahoo.com/DailyNews/manual/*http://search.yahoo.com/bin/search?cs=nw&amp;p=Department%20of%20Housing%20and%20Urban%20Development">web sites</A>) had no immediate comment on the report. 
<P>
<P>In its latest budget request, HUD asked for an increase of $113 million to $2.2 billion for a program that would give communities freedom to decide how best to solve affordable housing problems, such as rehabilitation of old buildings or buying land to erect new housing. Also, HUD has proposed initiatives it says would reduce regulatory barriers for communities to develop affordable housing. 
<P>
<P>There are about 36 million renters in the United States, comprising about one-third of all households. 
<P>
<P>Findings from the annual report are based on the group's analysis of data from the Census Bureau (<A href="http://us.rd.yahoo.com/DailyNews/manual/*http://search.news.yahoo.com/search/news?p=%22Census%20Bureau%22&amp;c=&amp;n=20&amp;yn=c&amp;c=news&amp;cs=nw">news</A> - <A href="http://us.rd.yahoo.com/DailyNews/manual/*http://search.yahoo.com/bin/search?cs=nw&amp;p=Census%20Bureau">web sites</A>) and HUD's calculations of fair market rents in each state, county and metropolitan area. The fair market rent is the cost of housing plus utilities. 
<P>
<P>Each jurisdiction's "housing wage" was established by calculating how much a person must earn per hour to spend no more than 30 percent of income on housing. HUD considers housing affordable if costs do not exceed 30 percent. 
<P>
<P>The median national housing wage of $15.21 an hour is slightly less than the median hourly wage of roughly $15.40 for a full-time U.S. worker this past July, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The coalition found that the housing wage increased 4 percent since 2002, from $14.66. 
<P>
<P>Among states, Massachusetts had the highest housing wages in 2003 at $22.40 per hour, followed by California, New Jersey, New York and Maryland. 
<P>
<P>As in previous years, states in the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic and West had the biggest jumps in their housing wages. It grew the most in Maryland (12 percent), followed by Virginia, California, Massachusetts and Connecticut. 
<P>
<P>The California metropolitan areas of San Jose and San Francisco topped the list of places that required the highest housing wages at about $35 an hour. Stamford-Norwalk, Conn.; Oakland, Calif.; and Boston each had housing wages of more than $27. 
<P>
<P>However, the study found that the housing wage in San Francisco decreased by 8.5 percent between 2002 and 2003. Crowley said this occurred partly because HUD may have adjusted downward the fair market rent for the area to account for then-lower energy costs, and partly because of a softening of rental prices in some neighborhoods. 
<P>
<P>___ 
<P>
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<P>On the Net: 
<P>National Low Income Housing Coalition: <A href="http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/ap/ap_on_re_us/storytext/SIG=99m9oh/*http://www.nlihc.org/index.html">http://www.nlihc.org/index.html</A> 
<P>HUD: <A href="http://us.rd.yahoo.com/dailynews/ap/ap_on_re_us/storytext/SIG=43osee/*http://www.hud.gov/">http://www.hud.gov/</A> 
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