Various proposals at the state and federal level could raise the minimum wage as high as $10 per hour. But even at that rate, thousands of people across Maryland would still struggle to pay rent, according to a recent study.
A worker living in metro Baltimore earning $10 per hour would have to work two full-time jobs to be able to pay the fair market rent for a one-bedroom apartment without expending an unreasonable portion of his or her income on housing, according to the study released last week by the National Low Income Housing Coalition.
The same is true in Frederick County. Even in Worcester County, on the Eastern Shore, an individual would have to work 60 hours a week to make enough so that rent didn’t consume more than 30 percent of his income — an affordability standard used by the housing industry and policy-makers.
There are just three counties in Maryland where a person working full time for $10 per hour can affordably rent a market-rate one-bedroom apartment: Garrett and Allegany counties in Western Maryland and Somerset County, on the Eastern Shore.
The figures are from the coalition’s Out of Reach 2013 report, which addresses the affordable-housing shortage across the country.
“If you’re earning at that low level, every extra quarter helps,” said Sheila Crowley, president and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition. “But it isn’t the answer to the housing crisis by any means.”
Crowley supports an increase in the minimum wage, but said the lack of affordable housing will only be solved by increasing the supply of apartments and offering rent assistance to people at the low end of the income spectrum.
At $7.25 an hour, the state’s current minimum wage, even in Maryland’s most affordable counties people are required to spend much more than 30 percent of their income for market-rate rental housing.
In Maryland, the hourly wage necessary to afford a fair-market two-bedroom apartment without spending more than 30 percent of a single renter’s income ranges from $12.15 in Allegany County to $27.15 in Southern Maryland and suburban Washington.
It would take an hourly wage of $24.06 for a person living in metro Baltimore to afford a fair-market two-bedroom rental without spending more than a third of his or her income on rent, according to the coalition’s figures.
The Baltimore Sun’s interactive designers have put the coalition’s wage and rent data into an online graphic that allows users to easily see where in Maryland low-income people can afford to live at a range of hourly wages. The graphic can be found at baltimoresun.com/housing.
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