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In D.C., Three Minimum Wage Jobs Needed To Afford Two-Bedroom Apartment

Rents in once-affordable area like Arlington's Columbia Pike corridor are rapidly rising due to development.
William F. Yurasko: http://www.flickr.com/photos/wfyurasko/4002624581/
Rents in once-affordable area like Arlington's Columbia Pike corridor are rapidly rising due to development.

Minimum-wage earners need about three full-time jobs to be able to afford a two-bedroom apartment in D.C., Maryland or Virginia, according to a new study by the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

The study looks at how many hours minimum-wage earners, or two minimum-wage earners in one household, must work full-time in order to afford the Fair Market Rent in a given state, while spending no more than 30 percent of income on housing.

  • In the District of Columbia, minimum-wage earners need to work 132 hours per week, 52 weeks per year, in order to afford a Fair Market Rent of $1,412.
  • In Maryland, minimum wage-earners need to work 135 hours per week, 52 weeks per year, in order to afford a Fair Market rent of $1,273.
  • In Virginia, minimum wage-earners need to work 114 hours per week, 52 weeks per year, in order to afford a Fair Market rent of $1,078.

Fair Market Rent is defined by the U.S. Department on Housing and Urban Development as "the 40th percentile of gross rents for typical, non-substandard rental units occupied by recent movers in a local housing market."

While the trend is dire for those earning the minimum, even those considered average are feeling the pinch.

  • In the District of Columbia, at the mean hourly wage of $25.20, renters need to work 44 hours per week to afford the rent.
  • In Maryland, at the mean hourly wage of $15.06, renters need to work 64 hours per week to afford the rent.
  • In Virginia, at the mean hourly wage of $15.79, renters need to work 52 hours per week to afford the rent.

Not surprisingly, the D.C. area is amongst the expensive in the entire country, with the District ranking as second most expensive, Maryland sixth and Virginia tenth. While the D.C. Metro area ranks towards the top, minimum-wage earners with full-time jobs can't afford a two-bedroom apartment in any state in the United States, according to the study.

The price of rent continues to be a hot-button issue in our area. Studies have shown that affordable housing is on the decline in D.C., which prompted Mayor Vincent Gray to make it a centerpiece of his State of the District address this year.

Affordable housing has also been a crucial sticking point in talks surrounding proposed developments in Alexandria's West End and along the Columbia Pike corridor in Arlington.

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