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Affordable Housing is Now Out of Reach for Two-Thirds of Indiana's Top Occupations, Wages Stagnant for Hoosier Renters in 2024

27 Jun 2024 9:00 AM | Daniel Stroud (Administrator)

INDIANAPOLIS, IN – To afford a modest, two-bedroom apartment at fair market rent in Indiana, full-time Hoosier workers need to earn $22.07 per hour. This is Indiana’s “2024 Housing Wage” according to Out of Reach, a report published jointly today by the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) and Prosperity Indiana.

Released annually, Out of Reach illuminates the gulf between wages and what people need to earn to afford their rent. The report reveals that affordable rental homes are out of reach for millions of low-wage workers and other families. The report’s “Housing Wage” is an estimate of the hourly wage full-time workers must earn to afford a rental home at fair market rent without spending more than 30% of their incomes. According to this year’s report, the national 2024 Housing Wage is $32.11 per hour for a modest two-bedroom rental home and $26.74 for a modest one-bedroom rental home.

“The new Out of Reach 2024 report finds that Indiana’s 2024 Housing Wage of $22.07 needed to afford a two-bedroom rental unit is an increase of $3.07 per hour above the 2023 Housing Wage. However, the average Hoosier renter’s wage of $17.92 per hour in 2024 increased by only $0.06 over the past year,” said Aspen Clemons, Executive Director at Prosperity Indiana. “To address Indiana’s growing housing affordability crisis, state and local policymakers must bridge the growing gap between rents and incomes by using all available policy tools,” said Clemons.

“For the first time in recent history, less than a third of Indiana’s Top 20 largest occupations pay wages sufficient to meet the state’s Housing Wage,” said Andrew Bradley, Senior Director of Policy and Strategy at Prosperity Indiana. “Only a quarter of Hoosiers working in the state’s most popular occupations earn enough on average to afford rent. This is not helping Hoosiers get ahead. With the cost of housing increasingly out of reach for Indiana families, we need coordinated efforts by our federal, state, and local policymakers to raise wages and increase the supply of safe, stable, and affordable housing for all Hoosiers,” said Bradley.

While the Housing Wage needed to afford a two-bedroom unit rose by 16% from 2023 to 2024, Indiana’s average renter wage increased by only $0.07 or 0.3% during the same period. The two-bedroom Housing Wage is higher than the average renter wage in 88 of Indiana’s 92 counties, 25 of 26 metro areas, and in the state’s combined nonmetro areas.

Download the Out of Reach-Indiana state and local data page.

Download Indiana’s Congressional District Housing Profiles.

The Housing Wage in Indiana has worsened, taking Indiana from the 43rd-least affordable state in the nation in 2021 to the 34th- least affordable in 2024. Among Midwest states, Hoosier renter wages remain persistently behind the average of the region. In 2023, the estimated average Hoosier renter wage of $17.92 was $0.78 an hour lower than the $18.70 average renter wage across all 12 Midwest states. The typical Hoosier renter working full time now makes $1,622 less each year than their average Midwest counterpart, or nearly 1.5 times the cost of a month’s rent for a two-bedroom rental at the fair market rent of $1,148.

Out of Reach 2024 also finds that 14 of the Indiana’s 20 most common occupations now pay median wages that are less than what a full-time worker needs to afford a modest two-bedroom rental home at the state’s average fair market rent, up from 10 occupations in 2023. The top occupations paying less than Indiana’s Housing Wage employ 843,720 working Hoosiers (up from 652,210 in 2023), 76% of the total employed in the state’s 20 largest occupations (up from 57% in 2023), and more than a fifth of the state’s total workforce. These poorly paid occupations are frequently held by women, Black and brown Hoosiers, and others making up Indiana’s extremely low-income renter households. For example, the median hourly wage for the vital work performed by home health and personal care aides in Indiana is $14.79 – almost 8 dollars less than the full-time wage of $22.07 needed to afford a two-bedroom rental home at the fair market rent.

Out of Reach 2024 also reveals that Hoosiers working at the minimum wage must work longer hours each week to afford housing than the average U.S. minimum wage worker. When factoring in higher state and county-level minimum wages, the typical minimum-wage worker in the U.S. must work 113 hours per week (2.8 full-time jobs) to afford a two-bedroom rental home at fair market rent, or 95 hours per week (2.4 full-time jobs) to afford a one-bedroom rental home at the fair market rent. By contrast, Indiana sets the state’s minimum wage at the federal floor of $7.25 per hour – a wage that has remained unchanged since 2009 – and preempts local governments from raising wage standards above this floor. Working at the minimum wage of $7.25 in Indiana a wage earner must now work 122 hours per week (3 full-time jobs) to afford a two-bedroom apartment and work 101 hours (2.5 full-time jobs) per week to afford a one-bedroom apartment. This means Hoosiers making minimum wage must work 468 hours more per year than the typical American worker in order to afford housing.

With the cost of rent growing further out of reach for those with the lowest incomes, and absent an adequate housing safety net, it is no surprise that homelessness has been on the rise. Existing research shows a strong connection between housing costs and homelessness in the U.S. The annual Point-In-Time count conducted by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development found that approximately 653,000 people were experiencing homelessness in January 2023 – the highest number that has ever been recorded through the count and a 12% rise over the previous year. In Indiana, the 2023 Point in Time Count conducted by the Indiana Balance of State (BOS) Continuum of Care (CoC), encompassing all counties in Indiana except Marion County, counted 4,398 Hoosiers experiencing homelessness in 3,363 households across all counties except Marion County. In addition, CHIP counted 1,619 individuals experiencing homelessness in their 2023 Indianapolis Point in Time CountOut of Reach 2024 sheds light on one of the primary causes of increasing homelessness by uncovering the extreme discrepancies between wages and rents.

The report points to a number of federal policy prescriptions to address the affordable housing and homelessness crisis, including two authored by Indiana Senator Todd Young. Congress must prioritize long-term housing solutions, such as Housing Choice Vouchers (HCVs), that address the gap between incomes and rents documented in the report. The “Ending Homelessness Act of 2023,” for example, would ensure rental assistance vouchers are universally available to all eligible households in need of assistance. Congress must also invest in solutions to expand and preserve the supply of affordable housing by passing the “Housing Crisis Response Act of 2023” and reduce the power imbalance between landlords and tenants by enacting federal renter protections.

Senator Young’s bipartisan “Family Stability and Opportunity Vouchers Act of 2023” would create 250,000 new housing vouchers targeted to low-income families with young children and provide mobility counseling services to help families find housing options in neighborhoods of their choice. And Senator Young’s soon-to-be-reintroduced “Eviction Crisis Act” would build on the success of Indiana’s Emergency Rental Assistance program and establish a permanent national housing stabilization fund for renters facing temporary financial setbacks. Prosperity Indiana has joined 75 organizations in a letter encouraging Senator Young to work with his colleagues on the Senate Banking Committee to advance these bills as part of a bipartisan housing legislation package currently under consideration by the Committee.

Prosperity Indiana and the Hoosier Housing Needs Coalition also delivered a letter with the signatures of nearly 500 Indiana organizations and individuals urging Governor Eric Holcomb to create and convene a Commission on Housing Safety, Stability, and Affordability to bring together state agencies, courts, local governments, and other stakeholders to align funding and advance policy solutions. The Indiana General Assembly should also invest in incentives to develop new housing affordable to low-income renters, preserve the state’s existing housing stock, and undo preemption of local governments’ ability to strengthen housing standards and increase fair and affordable housing options.

“Housing is a basic human need and should be regarded an unconditional human right,” said NLIHC President and CEO Diane Yentel. “This year’s Out of Reach report shows that despite rising wages, cooling inflation, and low unemployment, low-wage workers and other renters continue to struggle with the high cost of rent. Addressing the challenge requires long-term federal investments in affordable housing. As evidenced during the COVID-19 pandemic, federal policies and resources play a pivotal role in establishing a robust housing safety net, preventing evictions and homelessness, and mitigating housing instability among renters with the lowest incomes. Likewise, federal renter protections are needed to ensure decent, safe, and accessible living conditions for tenants around the country.”

For additional information, and to download the report, visit: http://www.nlihc.org/oor 


About Prosperity Indiana

The Indiana Association for Community Economic Development d/b/a Prosperity Indiana builds a better future for our communities by providing advocacy, leveraging resources, and engaging an empowered network of members to create inclusive opportunities that build assets and improve lives. Since its founding in 1986, Prosperity Indiana’s network has grown to nearly 200 organizations, representing thousands of practitioners statewide from the public, private, and nonprofit sectors.


The National Low Income Housing Coalition is dedicated to achieving racially and socially equitable public policy that ensures people with the lowest incomes have quality homes that are accessible and affordable in communities of their choice.

Prosperity Indiana
1099 N. Meridian Street, Suite 170
Indianapolis, IN 46204 
Phone // 317.222.1221 
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