Rents continue to rise as housing crisis continues

Oregon is now the 18th most expensive state for renters, up from 25th in 2015. In order to afford a modest, two-bedroom apartment at Fair Market Rent in Oregon, renters need to earn $19.38 per hour. This is Oregon’s 2016 Housing Wage, revealed in a national report released today. This figure represents an increase of nearly $3 in what a renter must make to afford housing in just one year.

The report, Out of Reach 2016, was jointly released by the National Low Income Housing Coalition, a Washington, DC-based research and advocacy organization, and the Oregon Housing Alliance. Every year, Out of Reach reports on the Housing Wage for all states, counties, and metropolitan areas in the country. The report highlights the gap between what renters earn and what it costs to afford rent at fair market value.

“We all need a safe, stable, and affordable place to call home. Housing costs are continuing to rise relative to wages, combined with a huge number of no cause evictions, rapidly increasing rents, and very low vacancy rates. The Legislature can do more to invest in affordable housing and protect tenants, and we’ll be advocating for the 2017 Legislature to do more for Oregonians who are affected by the housing crisis,” says Alison McIntosh, Deputy Director for Policy and Communications at Neighborhood Partnerships, which convenes the Oregon Housing Alliance.

The typical renter in Oregon earns $13.87 an hour, which is more than $5 less than the hourly wage needed to afford a modest two-bedroom home. In the Portland metro area, a renter has to earn $23.23 an hour to be able to afford the average two bedroom apartment and still have money left over for food, medicine, transportation, and other basic necessities. Outside of the Portland metro area, the landscape for renters is also harsh. Renters in central Oregon need to make nearly $16 an hour to be able to afford the average two-bedroom apartment.

While Oregon’s minimum wage at $9.25 is higher than the federal minimum of $7.25, there is still no affordable housing available for Oregon’s full-time minimum wage workers. A family must have 1.7 wage earners working full-time, or one full-time earner working 68 hours per week—meaning nearly 10 hour days, 7 days a week—to afford a modest one-bedroom apartment. Even with the increases to the minimum wage passed by the Legislature in 2016, the Housing Alliance believes rents will continue to significantly outpace wages.

“The Out of Reach data reflect a grim reality across the nation. There is no place in the United States where a minimum wage worker can afford a two-bedroom apartment,” said Diane Yentel, President and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition. “We as a nation must respond by investing in affordable housing for the lowest income households in America. The new national Housing Trust Fund is one solution, but it will require many more resources to address the need.”