Report: Columbus workers need to earn $11.44/hour to afford a decent one-bedroom

acarlson@ledger-enquirer.comApril 22, 2014 

Eleven dollars and forty four cents: that's how much one person in Muscogee County would have to make to afford a one-bedroom at "fair market rent" — while working 40 hours a week, every week of the year.

The National Low Income Housing Coalition recently reported on what "fair market rent" looks like in different communities across the country, "fair market" here referring to rent for "decent quality" one- and two-bedrooms (including utilities). The Washington Post mapped that data by county and color, so that the darkest/purplest parts of America are also the least affordable. ("Affordable" rent in these contexts always refers to rent that cost 30 percent or less of someone's monthly pay.)

The federal minimum wage is $7.25 an hour. The average hourly wage for one person to afford a one-bedroom and the fair-market rent for that one-bedroom across the Valley are:

• Chattahoochee County: $11.44/$595

• Harris County: $11.44/$595

• Muscogee County: $11.44/$595

• Talbot County: $10.15/$528

• Troup County: $11.15/$580

• Lee County: $10.29/$535

• Russell County: $11.44/$595

The Valley ranks pretty well when compared to the country's coasts and tips, where one person would have to make $19.08 (Broward County, Fla.); $21.19 (Ventura County, Calif.); or $22.38 an hour (Norfolk County, Mass.) for the same kind of housing. Marin, San Francisco and San Mateo Counties are the nation's least affordable, according to this data.

The most affordable parts of the country are also the least inhabited — broad swaths of the Dakotas and Nebraska, for example, where a Garfield County resident need only make $8.46. (If you ignore, as WaPo points out, North Dakota' gas- and oil-rich Mountrail, Ward and Williams Counties.)

And still: 14.8 percent of Columbus area residents reported having trouble to afford housing at some point in the last 12 months, according to a recent Gallup poll, more than four points above the national average.

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