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To Afford A Two-Bedroom Apartment In Texas, Renters Need To Earn $19.32 An Hour

In order to afford a two-bedroom home in Texas, renters earning the minimum wage would have to work 107 hours per week, according to a new study.

In Texas, the fair market rent for a two-bedroom apartment is $1,005 a month, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition. To afford that — without spending more than 30 percent of income on their housing — Texans would need to make $19.32 an hour (or $40,185 a year).

However, the average wage of Texas renters is lower — $18.20 an hour, according to the study.

And the gap is worse for Texans earning the minimum wage, which remains $7.25 an hour. These Texans would have to work almost three full-time minimum-wage jobs to cover the fair market rent for a two-bedroom apartment. For a one-bedroom, they would have to work two full-time jobs or 86 hours per week.

This problem isn’t unique to Texas. The minimum wage doesn’t cover rent anywhere in the country.

Rent and wages in North Texas

The gap between rent and income varies across the state. The most expensive areas, according to the report, are Midland, Austin-Round Rock, Odessa, Kendall County and Brazoria County. Texans in those areas have to earn between $21.48 and $26.31 an hour to afford rent.

In Dallas County, renters have to earn more ($20.71 an hour or $43,080 a year) and pay more ($1,077 a month) for a two-bedroom apartment than the statewide average. Renters in Dallas County on average make $23.99 an hour.

But it’s a different story depending on where someone lives in the county and Dallas proper.

For example, renters should be earning $31.15 an hour to afford a two-bedroom apartment in the Dallas Arts District area, where unemployment is low and the median household income is almost $85,000. 

Credit Courtesy of National Low Income Housing Coalition
The National Low Income Housing Coalition calculates that residents in this area of Dallas should earn $31.15 an hour to rent an affordable two-bedroom apartment.

In West Dallas, where almost a third of the population lives in poverty, renters should make $16.54 an hour to afford a two-bedroom apartment at a fair market rent of $860.

Credit Courtesy of National Low Income Housing Coalition
West Dallas, an gentrifying area of the city, requires a high wage for renters to afford housing. More than 30 percent of the population lives in poverty, though.

For Dallas residents earning the minimum wage, an affordable monthly rent is $377, according to the report.

In Tarrant County, the fair market rent for a two-bedroom apartment ($1,054 a month) is also higher than the statewide average. The hourly wage necessary to afford that is $20.27, but the average hourly wage among renters in Tarrant County is $16.64 — making for a larger gap between housing costs and earnings than the state overall.

Like Dallas County, stark differences in housing costs and earnings are just a zip code away in Tarrant County.

Credit Courtesy of National Low Income Housing Coalition
The housing wage necessary to rent a two-bedroom home in Fort Worth varies by zip code.

Enter a zip code here (under the map) to see how different areas of North Texas and the state compare.

Learn more

Explore the “Out of Reach” report and Texas data here and here.

For an in-depth discussion on affordable housing, listen to this episode of KERA’s Think with Bryce Covert, who wrote about how the current crisis came to be for The Nation.

KERA reported on the affordable housing issue in West Dallas last year in the series, "No Place To Go."