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KERA's One Crisis Away project focuses on North Texans living on the financial edge.

Rental Market Leaves Many Minimum Wage Workers Without Affordable Options

Andriy Blokhin
The Texas rental market leaves many low income people without an affordable option, according to new research

Almost 40% of homes in Texas are rented, and according to a new report from the National Low Income Housing Coalition, finding an affordable one is a struggle. Research shows there's a shortage in Texas of close to 600,000 homes for the lowest income renters.

Vice President for Research Andrew Aurand breaks down the numbers...

  • On how long Texas minimum wage earners ($7.25 p/h) must work to rent an apartment: "We estimate that a full-time worker on average in the state of Texas needs to earn about $16.51 per hour to afford just a modest one bedroom apartment at the fair market rent. So what that means if you're a minimum wage worker, you need to work about 91 hours a week. So that's more than two full time jobs every week out of the year to afford that one bedroom apartment."
  • On how Texas measures up to other states: "Texas ranks 20th in terms of its cost of housing, but I need to point out that even places that have cheaper rental housing, those places tend to have lower incomes and so the lowest wage workers struggle almost everywhere to afford rental housing."
  • On what types of jobs don't pay enough to rent an apartment: "We found a number of the largest occupations in Texas are low wage occupations, so like teacher assistants, nursing assistants, security guards, people working in food service, retail. Those jobs do not pay a median wage that's high enough for a full time worker to afford a rental home at the fair market rent. Beyond just minimum wage workers there's a lot of low wage workers who cannot afford rental housing in their market.
  • On the picture in Dallas and Fort Worth: "A full-time worker [in Dallas County] would have to earn $19.02 per hour to afford a modest one bedroom apartment, and they'd have to earn $23.10 an hour to afford a two bedroom apartment. Tarrant County rental housing is a little bit cheaper. It's still not affordable to low wage workers, but a full time worker would need to $16.40 an hour for a one bedroom, and $20.54 an hour for a two bedroom."

Courtney Collins has been working as a broadcast journalist since graduating from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University in 2004. Before coming to KERA in 2011, Courtney worked as a reporter for NPR member station WAMU in Washington D.C. While there she covered daily news and reported for the station’s weekly news magazine, Metro Connection.