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The Prescott Daily Courier | Prescott, Arizona

home : latest news : state September 15, 2014

4/1/2014 9:25:00 AM
Housing costs require $17.52-per-hour wage
Cronkite News Service

WASHINGTON - Arizonans have to earn $17.52 an hour, more than twice the minimum wage, to afford a typical two-bedroom home without spending more than 30 percent of their income on rent, a new report says.

The National Low Income Housing Coalition's 2014 Out of Reach report, released Monday, put Arizona in the top 20 most-expensive states for rental housing.

Topping the list were Hawaii, the District of Columbia, California and Maryland, where residents would have to earn nearly $25 per hour or more to be able to rent a two-bedroom apartment on 30 percent of their income.

While Hawaiians would have to earn $31.54 an hour, by the coalition's calculation, Puerto Rico residents have to earn the least at $10.19 an hour - still higher than the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour.

Valerie Iverson, executive director of the Arizona Housing Alliance, said the new report "really shines the light on the struggles of many hardworking families in Arizona."

"Everyone always thinks Arizona doesn't have an affordable housing problem," Iverson said.

While people may see many apartment complexes, she said they don't realize that those apartments aren't affordable for "those at the bottom" - extremely low-income earners who make just 30 percent of an area's median income.

Coconino County had the state's highest "housing wage" - the wage necessary to rent a two-bedroom home for 30 percent of income - at $19.63 an hour. Greenlee and Apache counties had Arizona's lowest at $12.25.

Arizona's minimum hourly wage rose to $7.90 on Jan. 1 - too low for a one- or two-bedroom apartment in any Arizona county, but enough for a studio apartment in Apache and Graham counties at 30 percent of income, according to NLIHC data.

The Arizona Housing Alliance said in a 2013 report that access to affordable housing units in Arizona was second-worst of any state, topped only by Nevada. The report, using 2011 data, said there were only 18 available affordable housing units for every 100 extremely-low-income households.

"We really have a shortage of housing for those most in need," Iverson said.

Daniel Romm, spokesman for the Arizona Department of Housing, said in an email that "the need for affordable housing remains at a premium and it is something that we must continue to address."

But he also said "the latest news and trends regarding the housing market within the state have been encouraging."

Romm pointed to the state's low-income housing tax credit program and its work with disabled Arizonans as examples of steps in the right direction.

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Reader Comments

Posted: Wednesday, April 02, 2014
Article comment by: Parker Anderson

Day after day, the same tired drone---"The rich are all hardworking saints, and the poor are all scum". Get your Bible and read the second chapter of James.

Posted: Wednesday, April 02, 2014
Article comment by: Mary Martin

It depends on location, location, location. A small town in Ohio would be sufficient with a lower salary, but living in NYC or San Francisco would not. I believe you earn what you deserve.

Posted: Wednesday, April 02, 2014
Article comment by: @ Jim Hasak

Unverifiable anecdotes are fun. Verifiable outliers are neat, and often inspiring.

But neither should be used to make policy and govern.

Posted: Wednesday, April 02, 2014
Article comment by: @ Minimum Wage

Your story is the truth of the employment/unemployment myth and minimum wage.

People like to pretend it is only the lazy, drug-addicted, illegal, good for nothings who are suffering (ahem - cheating the government).

The truth is many many people work very very hard, often having multiple jobs - yet still can't get ahead. The truth is the minimum wage is not a liveable wage in many parts of the country.

But it's okay - because you and people like you should have just made better choices and need to work harder. That's all.

Posted: Wednesday, April 02, 2014
Article comment by: k n

The immediate problem is that there is not enough young blood in this town to support services needed by the growing senior population. A young wage-working couple with kids trying to start out here has no chance. A lot of young people are jumping ship. If you don't believe me, go into any of the nice subdivisions here - you will rarely see children, or anyone under 65 for that matter.
We are loosing our most valuable resource: Our children.

Posted: Wednesday, April 02, 2014
Article comment by: Minimum Wage Is NOT Liveable

I make just above minimum wage and have at almost every job I've had since moving back to the area in 2009. I have a college education and an extremely diverse skill set. Almost all my employers past and present have loved me and come to rely on me. Yet I can't get a job that pays more than $8/hour no matter what I do or how many applications and resumes I put in and follow up on.

When I moved here, I lived in a house my parents owned and paid only my utilities (they took care of the "rent" while I went to school). Then I left school and had to find a new place to live. Not having any friends here really that I could move in with and share housing costs with, that left me living in my friend's garage for $250 a month (all I could afford since I could only get part-time work). When my friend's husband decided after almost two years that he wanted his garage back, I would have been out on the streets if it hadn't been for my new boyfriend (we had been dating less than four months) allowing me to move in with him and his mom.

Now we are stuck where we live (not a good situation) because we can't afford to rent a house or an apartment on what we make. We both work hard, pay our taxes, make sacrifices (can't remember the last time we went out to eat) and still can't make ends meet.

Posted: Wednesday, April 02, 2014
Article comment by: Adam S

Congrats to everyone who voted against the overrides last year. You just made sure that the average teacher cannot afford to buy a house in the community where they teach and should be laying down roots. And let's do keep in mind that the districts are among the LARGEST employers up here.

What do you think that does to the whole economy when the largest employee groups cannot afford to buy a house.

And when they chose teaching...they could. And it is not because housing costs are up - it is because they haven't have raises to keep up with inflation.

You had the power to change it and you threw it away.

To all the "anti-socialist" people - this i s not about socialism. This is about wages keeping up with cost of living and people paying their fair share (instead of the largest companies and richest people paying nothing!)

Finally - cost of living is HIGHER in out are than the rest of the state.

Posted: Wednesday, April 02, 2014
Article comment by: Hooty Hoo

Well maybe they have to spend more than 30% of their income on housing if they want to live in a typical 2 BR house. There any law against that? Who came up with that magic number and what does it have to do with minimum wage? The National Low Income Housing Coalition? Could that be some federal agency looking for a reason to exist, who comes out with some annual report that probalby cost $10 million dollars. I bet the dudes that work on that make more than minimum wage.

Posted: Wednesday, April 02, 2014
Article comment by: @ Who Cares

Interesting fairy tale, but completely untrue.

The circumstance of your birth has more to do with your life's achievements or lack thereof than anything else.

Being born to a homeless teenage girl in Nogales is not equal to being the firstborn son of the CEO of a Fortune 500 company.

Who do you think will work harder to get where they ultimately get? My money is on the little Nogales kid as the harder worker. The one with more "elbow grease" compared to "greased palms".

Posted: Wednesday, April 02, 2014
Article comment by: Why 30 Percent

Who came up with 30%? With a 640 FICA score, FHA will give a housing loan to someone at a 46% debt to income ratio. At that percentage, hourly wage would need to be $11.42. The rent (which is not listed in the article) is $911/mo. Let's also not forget that typically, one person is not paying the rent. There are usually at least two incomes paying the rent, whether that is husband/wife, roommates, significant others, etc.

Posted: Wednesday, April 02, 2014
Article comment by: @ @ Who Cares

The number of people I know in this area who willfully and gleefully milk the government for anything/everything (to include lying about income to get free and reduced lunch for their children at school) is a real eye-opener considering not a single one would be considered a Dem or liberal.

They lie, cheat, steal from the government but always seem to excuse their behavior and point the finger at those of other political persuasions, or more likely color, as the lazy "entitlement" bunch ruining this great nation.

Interesting bit of cognitive dissonance, but they are too ignorant/righteous to even realize the dichotomy.

Posted: Wednesday, April 02, 2014
Article comment by: Karma Accident

So, if a new business moves to Arizona, they will need to pay at least $17.52...or they could just move somewhere else.

Posted: Wednesday, April 02, 2014
Article comment by: Jim Hasak

These studies are slanted toward the programs they advocate, and the numbers do not apply in the real world, where people find ways to make do.

A young friend in California makes less than $10/hr. He does just fine by sharing a two-bedroom apartment (also sharing utilities), riding a bicycle to work, eating sensibly, and not blowing large sums of money on entertainment.

Posted: Wednesday, April 02, 2014
Article comment by: O. Delilah

@ Who cares -- We are NOT all born equal.

Posted: Wednesday, April 02, 2014
Article comment by: I didn't start at the bottom

and my 'shot' was more equal than most others because of what I didn't earn but nonetheless got from my family. I didn't have to outmaneuver or outcompete racism, sexism or a poor education. My elbows would have worn out long ago if they would have had to have greased the skids to get me to the starting line at which I began. There may well be no government intervention to "better" things, but that's no reason to turn a blind eye to the easy fact that we don't all start out at the bottom or that it is impossible for the average worker to save enough to retire, let alone to accumulate capital.

Posted: Wednesday, April 02, 2014
Article comment by: Harvey Wallbanger

Steve G: Don't feel that you are "stranded" here when it really shouldn't have anything to do with the housing and rental prices here. This market (with some exceptions) is generally the same across the board as every desirable medium market city in America controlled by demand.

Sounds as if you wish for the "good old days" yet throws blame toward the affluent area residents for your woes. Fact is, the lower middle-class actually outnumber the wealthy by a small margin in the Quad-City area as a whole.

There are always alternatives to live in more affordable areas (even here). There may be some benefits and/or sacrifices. It can be done. One is never "stuck" anywhere. Seek advice from a professional that specializes in financial matters for a brighter future.

Rational thinking always wins over unproductive thinking.

Posted: Wednesday, April 02, 2014
Article comment by: Tom Steele

This article points out the effect of government on our economy. Without government interference, rents and housing costs would drop to meet market demand. Also, severe government regulations add costs that are not necessary. As for Washington, D.C. and Maryland being costly, 6 of 10 of the highest average income per capita counties surround our capital of corruption. And finally, the minimum wage is NOT intended to be a family income, rather is an entry level wage for teens entering the work force. Get government OUT of business and out of interfering with America's economy. The federal government must be cut in half to comply with the U S Constitution and our economy will take off like a rocket.

Posted: Wednesday, April 02, 2014
Article comment by: Alexander Canyon

That dollar figuier one wage earner per housing unit. It's been a long time since single wage earner households were a standard. People actually do get ahead, save money and have cash to spend , when they share housing costs.

Posted: Wednesday, April 02, 2014
Article comment by: B G

I have an idea! Let's make minimum wage $10,000 per hour! Then all those poor people who are socially irresponsible and chose to not acquire the skills needed to feed, clothe and house themselves will be able to afford to live like kings and queens. They won't need to live on the public dole. No more food stamps.

No job? You must be kidding! Obama will point to a wonderful unemployment rate. And it's moving in the right direction. So you must be wrong.

Posted: Wednesday, April 02, 2014
Article comment by: Who Cares

@who cares, we are probably on the same page.

Posted: Wednesday, April 02, 2014
Article comment by: Steve G

I can no longer afford to live here. But I can't afford to leave. Like many I'm stranded by this new economy. Stuck with a house I can no longer afford but unable to go anywhere and do better. And apartments in this area are so outrageous no one but our beloved rich retirees can afford to rent them.

Posted: Tuesday, April 01, 2014
Article comment by: @ Who Cares

What are you talking about? From what I can see the majority of people are living off my elbow grease and stealing money directly from my paycheck.


Posted: Tuesday, April 01, 2014
Article comment by: Who Cares

We all start at the bottom. We all aspire to do better. We all must earn what we can and move up in life. We are all born equal and have to quantify our expectations then strive to meet them. We all have an equal shot, do not envy those who are smarter or luckier through inheritance.
Even lotto winners blow it.

Do not waste time on people like "Left to clean up the mess." This person obviously believes in the supernatural magic of state mandated controls and socialistic solutions.

There is no euphoria. We each earn what we strive to attain. There is nothing magic, it is all elbow grease.

Posted: Tuesday, April 01, 2014
Article comment by: Left to clean up the mess

First up, no further need of reading the sad life story of every first responder, his entourage, the fraternities he wants me to support, and the endless hours spent in training for the event that he'll be no match for but will prove to be THE most valuable lesson I was never aware of.

Second up, the caregiver who just wants to raise her own family.

Time once was that I didn't even consider having to make a choice

Posted: Tuesday, April 01, 2014
Article comment by: Retired Businessman

This is one part of a much larger picture. The "overall" cost of living index for the Southwest is in the lower percentile of the Nation as a whole. Housing costs are just part of the "affordability picture" vs "wages" and "minimum wage." For example, the "overall cost of living" in Hawaii, specifically in the metropolitan city of Honolulu, on the Island of Oahu (pop. 1 mil.) is so high that an annual income of $100k can feel like treading water and going nowhere. Whereas, in Arizona, the overall lower cost of living offsets housing costs.
The NLIHC is a low income housing advocacy group that provides tenant-based Section 8. This Housing Choice Voucher program is HUDís largest rental assistance program for low income renters.
Thank you for an excellent article on this one part of the overall picture of the cost of housing in Arizona.

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