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Sustainable Communities Thought Leadership

NLIHC Releases Out of Reach 2022: The High Cost of Housing

On July 28, 2022, the NLIHC released its annual report, Out of Reach 2022: The High Cost of Housing, showing that low-wage workers are facing severe challenges affording housing amid record-breaking rent increases. The report highlights the mismatch between the wages people earn and the price of decent rental housing in every state, metropolitan area, and county in the U.S. The report also calculates the “Housing Wage” a full-time worker must earn to afford a rental home without spending more than 30% of their income on housing costs. Out of Reach 2022 finds that in no state, metropolitan area, or county can a full-time minimum-wage worker afford a modest two-bedroom rental home, and these workers cannot afford modest one-bedroom apartments in 91% of U.S. counties. This year’s national Housing Wage is $25.82 per hour for a modest two-bedroom home at fair market rent and $21.25 per hour for a modest one-bedroom home. In Georgia, a person has to make $20.97 per hour to afford a modest two-bedroom unit. A Georgian making minimum wage must work 116 hours per week to afford a modest two-bedroom unit.

Georgia has over 340,000 extremely low income renters with only 39 available and affordable units per 100 extremely low income renters. Seventy-three percent of those extremely low-income renters pay more than 50% of their income for housing costs plus utilities. Georgia has decades of underfunding for affordable housing. With the rising costs of rent, low-income Georgians are struggling to remain housed resulting in increased rates of evictions and homelessness for already vulnerable households.

Addressing the roots of the housing affordability problem requires a sustained commitment to investing in new affordable housing, preserving affordable rental homes that already exist, bridging the gap between incomes and rent through universal rental assistance, providing emergency assistance to stabilize renters when they experience financial shocks, and establishing strong renter protections.

Federal, state and local governments must invest in solutions to expand and preserve the supply of affordable housing. This includes expanding the national Housing Trust Fund, establishing local and a state housing trust fund (with a dedicated source of revenue) to build and preserve affordable housing. Expand access to rental assistance to every eligible household in need. Create a permanent national housing stabilization fund to provide financial assistance to families who experience a sudden and temporary financial setback. Strengthen and enforce renter protections including providing legal counsel to renters facing eviction, establishing a warranty of habitability for the duration of the lease, prohibiting the reporting of rental debt on consumer reports, and source of income (including housing choice vouchers) as a protected class under fair housing.

Out of Reach 2022: The High Cost of Housing is available at: https://reports.nlihc.org/oor

Dr. Bambie Hayes-Brown is the President and CEO of Georgia Advancing Communities Together, Inc. and has lived experience of housing insecurity. For more information on Georgia ACT, visit www.georgiaact.org. Save the Date: Georgia ACT Annual Fall Affordable Housing Conference, October 11 and 12, 2022, Atlanta Metropolitan State College


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