A report out Wednesday by the National Low Income Housing Coalition paints a bleak picture of housing for the poor in the United States. The study says there’s nowhere in the country that a full-time worker bringing in a minimum wage salary could afford to rent a two-bedroom home.
According to the report, someone working full-time at $7.25/hour (the federal minimum wage), would need to work the equivalent of three full-time jobs every week of the year in order to afford a two-bedroom apartment priced at the national average.
North Carolina’s state minimum wage matches the federal minimum wage at $7.25 an hour.
Denell Tillman worked minimum wage jobs for years.
“It’s almost like a waste of time. You go there, spend 40 hours of your life there and your ends still haven’t met,” he said.
He now works in automotive technology which pays better, but he’s still raising his son while renting a one-bedroom apartment.
The report says North Carolina comes in with the 34th highest housing wage and it would take someone making at least $16.35 per hour to afford a two-bedroom rental home. At the current minimum wage, it says someone would need to work 90 hours a week to afford a two-bedroom rental home.
“Housing availability for minimum wage earners is extremely bad,” said Renee Norris with the Greensboro Housing Coalition.
Norris says the agency assists about 2,500 with housing annually. Most families they see are forced to spend 50 to 80 percent of their income on rent.
“If they need something less than $500 it’s almost impossible and a lot of those properties that are available are very unhealthy, unstable and no one would really want to live there if they could avoid it, but that’s the reality,” she told us.
It's a struggle for many, like Tillman, who believe rents are too high and wages are too low.
“Minimum wage needs to be revised. They need to do a revision,” said Tillman.
There is good news for minimum wage workers employed by the state. North Carolina has become the first state to adopt a $15 minimum wage for most of its state employees. The change was included in the state's budget which went into effect on Tuesday. It affects about 9,000 people.