Quick Hit Ellyn Fortino Wednesday May 25th, 2016, 3:54pm

Illinois Renters Must Earn Nearly $20 An Hour To Afford A Modest Two-Bedroom Apartment, Report Finds

Minimum wage earners in Illinois must work 97 hours a week, year round to afford a modest, two-bedroom apartment in the state, according to the annual "Out of Reach" report for 2016.

The National Low Income Housing Coalition and Housing Action Illinois jointly released the report, which shows that the gap between wages and rents continues to widen both nationally and in Illinois.

The Fair Market Rent (FMR) price for a two-bedroom unit in Illinois is $1,039, up from $977 last year. That means Illinois renters must now earn $19.98 per hour, or at least $41,567 annually, to afford a two-bedroom apartment without paying more than 30 percent of their income on housing. 

Overall, Illinois has the nation's 16th most expensive two-bedroom housing wage. Nationally, the average wage necessary to afford a modest, two-bedroom rental is $20.30.

According to the federal government's standard, rental housing is affordable when a household spends no more than 30 percent of its income on housing. Regarding FMR prices, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development calculates them annually to determine the amount of income needed to cover rent and utilities in a modest, privately owned rental housing unit.

In Illinois, the housing wage for a two-bedroom apartment ranges from a high of $22.62 in Cook County and the surrounding collar counties to a low of $12.21 in areas similar to Clay and Knox counties.

"It's an unacceptable situation," Housing Action Illinois policy director Bob Palmer said in a statement. "Housing should be affordable enough that a family can pay rent and still put food on the table. Instead, minimum wage workers in our state face unaffordable rates whether they live in Chicago, Bloomington, or Cairo."

Palmer says housing services have been negatively impacted by the 11-month Illinois budget impasse. A $700 million emergency human services funding bill, which was sent to Gov. Bruce Rauner's desk this month, would provide nearly $225 million for homeless shelters, supportive housing, rental subsidies and housing construction, according to Housing Action Illinois. 

"The state budget impasse has been causing people to become homeless. We urge Governor Rauner to help by signing the emergency spending bill," Palmer said. "This funding will provide temporary relief to homeless shelters that have had to turn away families and to developers building affordable housing who have had to delay construction on their projects."

Comments

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