An American Dream Redux


The American Dream meets up with reality in this newest housing report from the NLIHC. The 2008 Mortgage Crash made ore Americans renters. Some who lost homes have decided not to risk it again, especially since  workers must be mobile to find work. Fewer Americans expect to remain rooted for the life of a 30 year mortgage in the new gig-economy.

As demand for rentals increases, so do rents. The darker the blue on this map, the higher a state's rent costs--but none are in line with today's federal minimum wage, $7.25 an hour. If you're working full-time (as about 2 million Americans do at that wage), you couldn't afford a two-bedroom apartment

Even the median wage for many of the fastest-growing jobs (many of them held by women) like nursing assistant, retail salesperson, home health aid, and food service prep work falls short of what's needed even for a one-bedroom apartment--assuming you need to heat it and eat once in a while. Traditionally housing is expected to cost about 30 percent of your income. What percentage are you paying?   
The NLIHC "Out of Reach" report for 2017 shows exactly 12 US counties have rents in line with wages. If we assume the homeless and couch-surfers are the problem, we turn our back on the American dream:  an average worker should be able to keep a roof over her head. Towns, cities, and non-profits can look for new solutions like smaller spaces, energy efficiency, co-housing, cooperative housing, and public banking for housing rehab and building equity with elbow grease. Increasing the minimum wage--and paying $15 an hour for fast-food workers is just a start.