Despite Idaho’s rural character, the state isn’t exempt from issues of housing affordability associated with more developed regions. A new report from the National Low Income Housing Coalition finds a disparity between Idaho wages and the cost of rent.
The report is called Out of Reach 2018. It evaluates the hourly wage needed for a full-time employee to comfortably rent a property.
Statewide, someone needs to earn around $15 an hour to afford the rent for a two-bedroom house. It costs even more in Boise, Coeur d'Alene and Blaine County.
At $7.25 an hour, it would take a pair of full time jobs to afford the fair market rent of about $800.
“Families across Idaho are finding that costs for modestly priced homes are simply eating up more and more of their paycheck,” Alejandra Cerna Rios says. “High housing costs leave families with less to spend on essentials, and more importantly, it prices them out of communities that have more well-paying jobs.”
Cerna Rios is a policy analyst with the advocacy group Idaho Asset Building Network. She says it's important to keep in mind Idaho still subscribes to the federal minimum wage when considering how affordable it is to live in the Gem State.
“You know, I think some folks perceive that the federal minimum wage is something that, say, high schoolers over the summer earn,” says Cerna Rios. “But the federal minimum wage is actually what some household heads earn.”
Cerna Rios says the average renter wage in the Gem State is about $12 an hour – just barely enough for an affordable one bedroom.
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