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Report: It’s Impossible To Afford Housing In Idaho On Minimum Wage

Lacey Daley
Boise State Public Radio

You have to make nearly twice the state’s minimum wage of $7.25 an hour to afford a two-bedroom apartment in Idaho. It’s more than double the minimum wage if you want to rent in Ada or Canyon counties and closer to triple for Blaine County. That’s from a study out last week from the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

According to that report, titled Out of Reach 2016, even an apartment with no bedrooms is out of reach for the more than 20,000 Idahoans making the state minimum or less.  It says a renter needs to make $9.53 an hour to afford a zero-bedroom apartment based on the widely used guideline that people should pay a maximum of 30 percent of their income on housing.

Peg Richards, president of the Boise/Ada County Homeless Coalition, says the study shows that the area needs, “all hands on deck” to solve the low-income housing shortage.

“It is important that citizens throughout Idaho understand the implications of this fact: absolutely no one earning minimum wage can afford a two-bedroom apartment, and people working at this wage, including many two-earner households, can be considered 'homeless-in-waiting,'” Richards says.

The stats may sound dire but Idaho is still one of the most affordable states to rent in, according to the Low Income Housing Coalition report. In neighboring Washington State a renter would have to make more than $23 an hour to afford a two-bedroom apartment.

More numbers from the report

Idahoans renting = 31 percent

Renter households = 180,278

Average renter wage = $11.23

State “housing wage” (wage needed to rent a two-bedroom apartment) = $14.22

Ada County housing wage = $15.17

Blaine County housing wage = $18.52

Affordable rent for fulltime minimum wage worker = $377

Affordable rent for average Idaho renter = $584

Hours minimum wage worker needs to put in a week to afford a two-bedroom apartment = 78

Hours average Idaho renter needs to put in a week to afford a two bedroom apartment = 51

Find Adam Cotterell on Twitter @cotterelladam

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