Two phrases that have often been seen together are minimum wage and rent. But why? These two phrases, though both parts of everyday life are labeled under different categories. One is categorized under-employment, and the other housing. Though, throughout time we have seen how these two are essential and relational to each other. One cannot be without another. Why? Because you have to pay for rent. Rent often takes up a large chunk of the paycheck and is essential for living.
A Des Moines Register article called Minimum Wage Workers Cannot Afford Rent in Iowa with a 40-hour Week, New Report States. For a worker who makes minimum wage to afford a one-bedroom apartment, they would have to work 67 hours a week. That is 9.5 hours a day, working from around 8-5:30 pm every single day. That’s a lot of work. A lot. For a two-bedroom, they would have to work 85 hours a week. I don’t even want to do that math.
So what would it take for this to balance out? At what point could someone work a minimum wage job and afford a two-bedroom apartment without working seven days a week? For it to balance out, the minimum wage would be $15.46 an hour. With the Iowa minimum wage following the national wage, it is currently at $7.25/hour. The update would be over double what is now. This number was developed off of what is considered rent-burdened costs. A tenant is considered rent-burdened when they spend more than 30% of their income on rent.
This crisis is worsening during the pandemic. With many workers losing jobs, there is more worry about how to afford rent. When tenants are already spending so much on rent, there is not much in savings for a rainy day fund.
To get affordable housing as a society we need livable wages. For how hard people work they deserve to save and know that they can come home to a safe and happy place and not be overworked or over cost-burdened.
National Low Income Housing Coalition Iowa Report: https://reports.nlihc.org/oor/iowa