The Minimum Wage has been in the news quite a bit lately. Many are urging both states and the federal government to raise the wage, which has been set at $7.25 on a national level since 2009.
There also is something called the “housing wage,” which is determined by calculating the hourly rate a full-time worker needs to earn in order to pay only the recommended 30% of his or her income towards rent. According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, the housing wage in Tulsa County is currently $14.21 for a 2 bedroom apartment at fair market rent. So, in other words, for a household to afford rent on a 2 bedroom apartment, 2 people would need to be working full-time for at least minimum wage.
The annual income needed to keep housing costs affordable has increased $720 from 2013 to 2014. This increase means a family earning just enough to comfortably afford rent on a 2 bedroom unit in 2013 would need a 2.4% pay raise just to keep up with the rise in housing costs in Tulsa.
Stepping back to look at Oklahoma as a whole, (more…)
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News about high rent and cuts to housing programs keep grabbing my attention. Three weeks ago, NPR took a look at the personal toll sequestration is taking on people struggling to secure affordable housing. Sequester Puts Some Needing Housing Aid ‘Back To Square One’ tells the story of two people who waited years to receive their housing voucher, only to have them rescinded due to budget cuts.
One young woman spent seven years on the waitlist for assistance. While she waited, she lost her job, and then her housing. Word eventually came that she was approved for a voucher, but before she was able to secure housing it was revoked due to budget cuts. A Virginia man waited ten years for a voucher. He was finally scheduled for an interview with the housing authority, but it too was canceled due budget concerns. He continues to live on the street.
These dashed hopes are an outcome of sequestration, but the long wait times are part of a bigger problem. As mentioned in another NPR story, recent cuts came on top of a 25% cut to voucher programs in January of 2012.
Both NPR reports, and other sources, have supplied details on how housing authorities around the country are dealing with the loss of funding.
- In Connecticut, the city of Hartford rescinded 88 newly issued vouchers.
- Fort Worth, Texas rescinded 99 vouchers for families who had not yet signed a lease.
- In Minnesota, 160 vouchers were put on hold. (more…)
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A couple of weeks ago I posted about the lack of affordable rental housing for families with low-income. In essence, there is no state in the country where fair market rent is affordable for a single worker at minimum wage. A partial solution to this crisis is provided by federal housing assistance, through vouchers or public housing. However there are often waiting lists for these programs, as the demand outpaces the availability of funds.
Now, a recently released paper, authored by Douglas Rice of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP), lays out what sequestration cuts will mean for families who are either currently receiving housing assistance or on the waitlist. The extremely short version is that state and federal agencies will probably have to cut assistance to about 140,000 families by early 2014 – and that just represents funding cuts for Housing Choice Vouchers, sometimes referred to as Section 8 Vouchers. The chart below gives a more detailed look at the cuts to vouchers, public housing, homeless assistance and other housing programs.
In Oklahoma, some of the pressure is already being felt by the agencies that receive and distribute federal housing assistance. The Muskogee Phoenix reported in March that the Muskogee Housing Authority is expecting a $153,000 decrease in funds for Section 8 vouchers and an additional $167,000 decrease in funds for public housing programs. While the housing authority has (more…)
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