Special Report

Cities Where People Can't Afford Their Rent

10. Washington-Arlington-Alexandria, Md.
> Rent affordability gap: $13.11/hr.
> Fair market rent: $1,506 (11th highest)
> Average renter wage: $15.85/hr.
> Wage needed for 2BR apartment: $28.96/hr.
> Hrs. needed to rent 2BR apartment: 73/wk.

The Washington-Arlington-Alexandria metropolitan area is one of the wealthiest in the country. Median household income is the seventh highest among the 580 metro regions studied, at $107,500. However, the estimated income for renters in the area is less than half that, at only $52,599. According to the National Low-Income Housing Coalition’s report, in order to earn the recommended salary of three times monthly rent, a person in the region would have to earn $28.96 per hour. According to the Census Bureau, however, renters in the MSA earn an average of just $15.85 per hour.

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9. Pike County, Pa.
> Rent affordability gap: $13.17/hr.
> Fair market rent: $1,011 (74th highest)
> Average renter wage: $6.28/hr.
> Wage needed for 2BR apartment: $19.44/hr.
> Hrs. needed to rent 2BR apartment: 124/wk.

The average wage of a renter in Pennsylvania’s Pike County is a mere $6.28 per hour — one of the country’s lowest. However, the hourly wage required so that rent accounts for no more than approximately one-third of a worker’s total income is $19.44. To date, only 16% of Pike County’s population rents. This is the lowest rate among metropolitan areas on this list. Recent substantial increases in natural gas fracking activity in the region have driven up home prices dramatically, one of the major reasons for the rise in current prices compared to renter income.

8. New Haven-Meriden, Conn.
> Rent affordability gap: $13.26/hr.
> Fair market rent: $1,352 (21st highest)
> Average renter wage: $12.74/hr.
> Wage needed for 2BR apartment: $26.00/hr.
> Hrs. needed to rent 2BR apartment: 82/wk.

Median income in the New Haven-Meriden region in Connecticut is $84,900, the 49th highest in the country. The estimated renter income is $35,358, the 107th highest in the country. This disparity has an impact on the region’s renters, which represent 33% of the total living population. In order to comfortably afford a two-bedroom apartment in the metro area, residents working median wage would need to work more than three full-time minimum-wage jobs, or two full-time jobs at the average renter income.

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7. San Benito County, Calif.
> Rent affordability gap: $13.48/hr.
> Fair market rent: $1,204 (34th highest)
> Average renter wage: $9.68/hr.
> Wage needed for 2BR apartment: $23.15/hr.
> Hrs. needed to rent 2BR apartment: 96/wk.

The estimated average wage for renters in San Benito County is $9.68 per hour. Aside from the average wage in Pike County, this is the lowest amount among metropolitan areas on this list. To comfortably pay rent on a two-bedroom apartment, residents would need to earn $23.15 per hour. This is among the largest amounts in the country. Renters currently earning the mean renter wage in San Benito County would need to work nearly two and a half full-time jobs to comfortably afford a two-bedroom apartment at the current price.

6. Boston-Cambridge-Quincy, N.H.
> Rent affordability gap: $13.67/hr.
> Fair market rent: $1,369 (20th highest)
> Average renter wage: $12.66/hr.
> Wage needed for 2BR apartment: $26.33/hr.
> Hrs. needed to rent 2BR apartment: 83/wk.

According to NLIHC, the New Hampshire section of the Boston-Cambridge-Quincy MSA has one of the highest estimated renter median incomes in the country, at $43,391. Renters making the $7.25 per hour minimum wage would have to work 145 hours per week to comfortably afford a two-bedroom apartment — one of the highest amounts in the country. The average renter in the region is estimated to earn $12.66 per hour. To comfortably pay for a two-bedroom apartment they would need to earn an additional $13.67 an hour, a total of $26.33 per hour.