Indiana News

For Indiana workers, monthly rent often out of reach

INDIANAPOLIS (Indiana News Service): For the one in three Hoosiers who rents their home, the gap is widening between their earnings and their housing costs.

The “Out of Reach 2020” report says Indiana’s Housing Wage of $16.32 is the 39th highest in the United States and sixth-highest among a dozen Midwestern states. Andrew Bradley, policy director for Prosperity Indiana, explained that the Housing Wage is the hourly amount a renter needs to earn to afford a basic, two-bedroom apartment.

“Cost of living for housing for Indiana really isn’t all that low,” he said. “Another startling stat is that Indiana actually has the third-highest number of hours per week that workers have to work in order to afford that two-bedroom apartment in the Midwest.”

Fair-market rent in Indiana is $848 a month, and the average renter’s wage is $14.44 an hour. A worker who earns the minimum wage of $7.25 an hour would need to put in 90 hours a week on the job to afford a two-bedroom place.

Bradley noted that the data in the report is a snapshot of the housing market prior to the pandemic. He said he believes it can be used as a starting point as the state examines policies to revive the economy.

“As we’re taking into account unemployment claims and other economic effects on housing stability, we’re going to need to make an investment so that Hoosiers can stay stably housed where they already are,” he said, “but we also need more targeted investments in the future.”

Gov. Eric Holcomb recently announced a $25 million investment in the COVID-19 Rental Assistance program. It provides up to $500 a month for four months to people who’ve lost a job during the pandemic. Affordable-housing advocates are asking Congress to invest at least $100 billion nationwide in emergency rental assistance.

The report is online at reports.nlihc.org.

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