Housing and wage map

This map shows how much you would have to earn an hour to afford a two-bedroom apartment in different states.

Minimum-wage earners would have to work 70 hours a week — 10-hour days, seven days a week — to afford a modest one-bedroom apartment here.

That's according to a new study by the National Low Income Housing Coalition that shows the gap between low-income wages and housing affordability in Lancaster County and across the country.

The study shows that Lancaster County renters would have to earn $12.71 an hour to afford that modest one-bedroom apartment, which goes for an average rent of $661 a month here.

Unfortunately, the actual average renter's wage falls short of that, at $11.84 an hour in Lancaster County.

The statistics are included in the 2015 study called "Out of Reach," which examines the cost of rental housing in communities across the country,  juxtaposing that with the wages renters earn there.

The study shows that millions of Americans struggle to find affordable rent, according to the Coalition, which works to promote public policy that assures people with the lowest incomes in the United States have affordable and decent homes.

Recent LNP stories have documented the lack of affordable housing here.

Part of the problem lies in the kind of housing stock being built here. Single-family homes still account for up to 80 percent of the housing being built in Lancaster County. By 2028 only 40 percent of buyers will want a single-family home, a study predicted.

A 2013 analysis of the housing market, conducted for the nonprofit Lancaster Housing Opportunity Partnership, found rental units are in short supply. Lancaster County's small 5 percent vacancy rate puts pressure on rent, making the situation worse.

Some local families here are turning to low-budget hotels, because they can't afford rent plus a security deposit.

The "Out of Reach" study outlines the challenges of finding affordable housing for those making only minimum wage, which is $7.25 an hour in Lancaster County and across Pennsylvania.

For those making that wage, an affordable rent would be $377 a month, the study found.

Even at that higher average renter's wage of $11.84 an hour here, an affordable rent would be $615 a month. That means those renters making the average hourly rate could afford only an efficiency-type apartment, which goes for an average of $580 a month here.

Looked at a different way, the annual income someone would need to afford a one-bedroom apartment in Lancaster County is $26,440 a year.

Lancaster County has 59,236 renter households here, or about 31 percent of the population.

Pennsylvania's picture is similar to Lancaster County's. The average renter's wage for the state is $13.66 an hour. At that rate, a renter could afford $710 a month, not quite enough for a one-bedroom apartment, which goes for $739 on average in the state, but enough for an efficiency-type apartment, which goes for $635 a month.

And it's even tougher for those who  live in and around Philadelphia.

Those who live in neighboring Chester County would have to make $18.44 an hour, or $38,360 a year, to afford the average rent of $959 for a one-bedroom apartment in that county.

The data in the "Out of Reach" report is from  the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development,  the U.S. Census and the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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