In order to afford a modest, two-bedroom apartment at fair market rent in Arizona, full-time workers need to earn $23.44 per hour. This is Arizona’s 2022 Housing Wage, revealed in a national report published today. The report, Out of Reach, was jointly released by the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC), a research and advocacy organization dedicated to achieving affordable and decent housing for people with the lowest incomes, and the Arizona Housing Coalition. This year, the groups released the Out of Reach report amid record-high inflation and rising rental costs. These rent increases are affecting tenants nationwide, with median rents for two-bedroom apartments increasing nearly 18% between the first quarter of 2021 and the first quarter of 2022. At the same time, costs for necessities like food and transportation have also skyrocketed, leaving low-income renters with increasingly tighter budgets. With inflation breaking a 40-year record in 2022, many renters have had to make difficult decisions about their budget, sacrificing childcare, medical care, and food to maintain housing.

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“’Out of Reach’ answers the question: ‘How much do you have to earn to afford rent and utilities on a modest apartment in Arizona?’ Out of Reach compares the Housing Wage with Arizona’s minimum wage, and the most common occupations in each state,” said Joan Serviss, Executive Director of the Arizona Housing Coalition. “And what it reveals is that our state’s retail and hospitality workers, nursing assistants, teachers, secretaries and first responders don’t make enough to live here.  We are encouraged by state lawmakers’ recent bipartisan investment in the state Housing Trust Fund to help increase the housing stock and lower rents; and look forward to the policy outcomes of the Legislative Housing Supply committee to study how to increase the stock – and affordability – of housing in our state.”

The federal minimum wage has remained at $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 $12.80 in Arizona, a wage earner must have 1.5 full-time job(s) or work 60 hours per week to afford a modest one-bedroom apartment and 1.8 full-time job(s) or work 72 hours per week to afford a two-bedroom apartment.

“Decades of chronic underfunding for housing assistance have resulted in a housing-lottery system, where only 25 percent of eligible households receive the housing assistance they need,” said NLIHC President and CEO Diane Yentel. “With rents rising rapidly, homelessness worsening, and millions of families struggling to stay housed, federal investments in expanding proven solutions – like Housing Choice Vouchers, the national Housing Trust Fund, and public housing – are badly needed and long overdue. As a country, we have the data, partnerships, expertise, solutions, and means to end homelessness and housing poverty – we lack only the political will to fund solutions at the scale necessary.”

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