Next to job availability, access to affordable housing was ranked the second most important challenge for lower-income communities in New England according to the Community Outlook Survey released by the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston. The lack of availability of affordable housing for low-income renters also continues to grow. The Vermont Housing Fiance Agency’s Housing Matters blog highlights this unfortunate fact:
Many renters within and beyond Vermont’s borders struggle to afford a decent, safe place to live. Increasing rents coupled with stagnant or declining incomes have widened the gap between the number of affordable rental units available to lower income households. For every 100 extremely low-income renter households in the country, there are only 29 affordable and available rental units, according to recent research from the Urban Institute. This is down from 37 in 2000. Extremely low income renters living in most Vermont counties today face nearly as tight a market when looking for rental homes they can afford, according to a mapping tool designed by the Urban Institute that is based primarily on 2012 estimates from the U.S. Census Bureau. See how your county fares with the Urban Institute’s online mapping tool.
In no state can a minimum wage worker afford a two-bedroom unit at Fair Market Rent, working a standard 40-hour work week, without paying more than 30% of their income. In Vermont, someone making minimum wage would need to work 86 hours to afford such a unit. The National Low Income Housing Coalition shows how many hours in each state a minimum wage worker would need to work in a week in order to afford rent: