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Renters being priced out of housing options

POSTED March 27, 2012 11:03 p.m.

The dream of becoming a homeowner burst for countless individuals when the housing market collapsed and now even the hope of renting a decent residence is slipping further away from them, according to a new report from the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

The report, “Out of Reach 2012,” indicated that 57 percent of renters in Stanislaus County are unable to afford a typical two-bedroom apartment.

The Fair Market Rent for a two bedroom apartment in the county is $952 according to the coalition. At that price, a Stanislaus County worker would need to earn $18.31 an hour, or more than $38,000 annually, to afford a two bedroom apartment.

Instead, the hourly income average for a Stanislaus County worker is $11.35, bringing in just over $23,000 annually, according to the report’s figures.

The news for renters across the state was just as disheartening. California is one of the most expensive states to rent in; second only to Hawaii.

The truth is California has been well behind in housing production for decades,” said Rob Wiener, executive director at California Coalition for Rural Housing, which released the report locally. “The current supply of affordable rental homes has remained static while the demand continues to grow. This has been exacerbated by the slashing of housing funds at all levels, funds that have effectively created housing options in the past.”

In California, a minimum wage worker earns an hourly wage of $8. In order to afford the Fair Market Rent for a two-bedroom apartment, a minimum wage earner must work 130 hours per week, 52 weeks per year. Or a household must include 3.3 minimum wage earners working 40 hours per week year-round in order to make the two-bedroom Fair Market Rent affordable.

In California, the estimated average wage for a renter is $17.68. In order to afford the Fair Market Rent for a two-bedroom apartment at this wage, a renter must work 59 hours per week, 52 weeks per year. Or, working 40 hours per week year-round, a household must include 1.5 workers earning the mean renter wage in order to make the two-bedroom Fair Market Rent affordable.


In Stanislaus County a worker making the average wage would need to log 64 hours a week to afford the Fair Market Rent on a two bedroom apartment.

Turlock resident Dawn Vickery, 43, is well aware of the rental disparity in Stanislaus County.

For years the part-time paraeducator for the Turlock Unified School District has been trying to rent an apartment for herself and her 17-year-old son, but the rental requirement of earning an income three times that of the rent puts her $900 a month earnings out of contention.

“Even a studio apartment is out of reach,” Vickery said. “The rent here is not matching up with the local income. Renters are competing with people who have lost their homes and we’re being priced out and having to rely on the generosity of family and friends to keep a roof over our heads.”

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