To afford a modest, two-bedroom apartment at fair market rent in Indiana, full-time workers need to earn $16.32 per hour. This is Indiana’s 2020 Housing Wage, revealed in a national report released today. The report, Out of Reach, was jointly released by Prosperity Indiana, a statewide community development network, and the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC), a research and advocacy organization dedicated solely to achieving affordable and decent homes for the lowest income people.
Indiana’s 2020 Housing Wage of $16.32 per hour is up from $16.03 in 2019 and is now sixth-highest among the 12 Midwest states, above the regional median of $16.30. The report also finds that the current median renter wage in Indiana of $14.44 per hour is sixth-highest in the Midwest, a penny above the regional median of $14.43. This would indicate that the cost of living in Indiana, compared to Midwestern peers, is not particularly low.
“Data shows that the typical renter income is insufficient to afford rental housing in 80 of Indiana’s 92 counties — and in all 92 for low-income renters — and that’s before the economic and income disruptions caused by COVID-19,” said Jessica Love, Prosperity Indiana’s Executive Director. “This pandemic has certainly highlighted the very harsh reality of living at the edge of housing stability – often just one paycheck away from homelessness – and the impact it can have on the health and well-being of us all. As a result, we must consider the housing affordability issue that so many Hoosier renters experience and begin to proactively address it as a community-level concern.”
This year, the Out of Reach report is released during a time when the coronavirus has clearly illustrated that housing is healthcare. The mandate to “stay at home” was echoed by top officials across the country. However, having a stable place to stay was out of reach for millions of people before the pandemic. Prior to the pandemic, more than 7.7 million extremely low-income renters were spending more than half of their limited incomes on housing costs, sacrificing other necessities to do so. The compounding of high job losses and the lack of access to proper healthcare and resources considerably depleted already limited resources and access. In the past few months alone, millions of households have dealt with a decline in wages through layoffs, furloughs, or decreased work hours and many will struggle to afford their rents. There are no states, metropolitan areas, or ZIP codes in the country where renters can afford a home at Fair Market without spending more than 30% of their income on housing costs. The severe shortage of affordable and available rental homes is still prevalent.
Indiana’s minimum wage has remained at the federal floor of $7.25 an hour without an increase since 2009, not keeping pace with the high cost of rental housing. In no state, even those where the minimum wage has been set above the federal standard, can a minimum wage renter working a 40-hour work week afford a modest two-bedroom rental unit at the average fair market rent. Working at the minimum wage of $7.25 in Indiana, a wage earner must have 1.8 full-time jobs or work 73 hours per week to afford a modest one-bedroom apartment (up from 71 hours in 2019). To afford a two-bedroom apartment at fair market rent, that Hoosier must have 2.3 full-time jobs or work 90 hours per week (up from 88 hours in 2019).
The typical renter in Indiana pre-COVID-19 earns $14.44, which is $1.88 less than the hourly wage needed to afford a modest unit. The economic downturn spurred by the coronavirus has further increased the risk of housing instability for millions of low-wage renters at a time when stable housing is vital.
“Housing is a basic human need, but millions of people in America can’t afford a safe, stable home,” said Diane Yentel, NLIHC president and CEO. “The harm and trauma of this enduring challenge is laid bare during COVID-19, when millions of people in America risk losing their homes during a pandemic. The lack of affordable homes for the lowest-income people is one of our country’s most urgent and solvable challenges, during and after COVID-19; we lack only the political courage to fund the solutions at the scale necessary. It’s time for Congress to act.”
For additional information, visit: https://reports.nlihc.org/oor/indiana
About Indiana Association for Community Economic Development D/B/A Prosperity Indiana
Prosperity Indiana is a statewide membership organization for the individuals and organizations strengthening Hoosier communities. 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 has grown to approximately 200 members from the public, private, and nonprofit sectors.