Metro Phoenix renters need to earn about $19.50 an hour to afford a decent two-bedroom apartment.
The typical Valley renter earns $17.59 an hour, according to a new study from the National Low Income Housing Coalition.
Rising rents across the Valley are squeezing a growing number of renters into paying more than they can afford. Just ask the many millennials, single parents or one-income households in the Phoenix area facing higher monthly costs.
And it could get worse for 89,000 Arizonans who receive HUD rental aid due to proposed cuts at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, according to Maria Polletta, The Republic’s diversity and inequity reporter.
In Arizona, a renter must work 70 hours per week making $18.46 an hour to afford a two-bedroom home. The typical renter in the state makes about $16.54 an hour.
The coalition's research included costs for utilities and uses two-bedroom apartments as a benchmark because so many families are renters.
Housing costs are considered affordable if they take 30 percent or less of a person’s income. No county in Arizona is considered affordable for the typical renter.
Flagstaff renters have it the worst. In the northern Arizona city, renters need to earn $21.71 an hour, a week to afford a two-bedroom apartment. The city's estimated typical hourly wage is $12.37, according to the report.
The disparity is a big reason why the Flagstaff City Council approved putting a $25 million affordable housing bond on the city’s November ballot.
Metro Phoenix’s relatively affordable home prices and rents for the West have long been a draw for growing companies and new residents.
All the housing and economic development experts I talked to say affordable workforce housing is important for the state to keep growing and drawing jobs that hopefully pay higher incomes.
California has an exodus of companies and people moving to states including Arizona, partly due to the affordable housing. The average California renter must earn $32.68 an hour or work almost 120 hours to afford a typical two-bedroom apartment.
That makes Arizona look great for affordability. But we still have an issue that could get worse if not taken seriously.
“The lack of stable, affordable housing can result in the loss of employment, affect health and academic achievement, increase evictions and lead to homelessness," said Joan Serviss, executive director of the Arizona Housing Coalition.
“As home and rental prices increase, so has the costs of living — utilities, healthcare, child care and so much more, resulting in far too many Arizonans being forced out of their homes.”