Seattle ‘out of reach’ for many as new report details the big salary needed to afford a small apartment

Seattle housingSeattle housing
Apartments under construction in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood. (GeekWire Photo / Kurt Schlosser)

In order to afford a one-bedroom apartment in Seattle, you’re going to need to make $61,160 a year. If you want an extra room for other people in your family, or just for your stuff, your salary better jump to $75,120.

The numbers are the latest distressing signal about the booming city’s lack of affordability for people making below a certain amount, especially those trying to survive on minimum wage. It’s all detailed in Out of Reach 2018, a new report from the National Low Income Housing Coalition. Crosscut first reported on the findings here.

Washington state has the eighth highest housing wage in the United States, according to the report. A worker earning minimum wage of $11.50 per hour would have to work 75 hours per week to afford a one-bedroom apartment priced at the fair market rent of $1,121 per month.

In Seattle, that rent jumps to $1,529 and the number of hours needed to work to afford that one bedroom at minimum wage jumps to 102 per week.

In no state, metropolitan area, or county can a worker earning the federal minimum wage or prevailing state minimum wage afford a two-bedroom rental home at fair market rent by working a standard 40-hour week, the report says.

The report’s Housing Wage is an estimate of the hourly wage a full-time worker must earn to afford a rental home at HUD’s fair market rent (FMR) without spending more than 30 percent of his or her income on housing costs. FMRs provide an estimate of what a family moving today can expect to pay for a modestly priced rental home in a given area. This year’s findings demonstrate how far out of reach modestly priced housing is for the growing low-wage work force, despite recent wage growth, and for other vulnerable populations across the country.

Hampered by the pace of new apartment construction in relation to massive population growth, Seattle’s struggles are well documented. And the report comes on the heels of the City Council’s repeal of a new tax on big businesses meant to address the city’s homelessness crisis.

Escaping to paradise is clearly not the answer. Hawaii is No. 1 on the Out of Reach ranking of states and you should not even entertain the idea of moving there if you want to earn minimum wage and pay for your own place. But, if all you want to do is work, it’ll take 143 hours per week at minimum wage.

Click here for the full Out of Reach report.

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