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Report: Utah’s Housing Wage Is $20.21 Per Hour To Afford 2-Bedroom Apartment

MIDVALE, Utah — Full-time workers in the Beehive State need to earn just over $20 an hour in order to afford a modest, two-bedroom apartment, according to a new joint report from the National Low Income Housing Coalition and the Utah Housing Coalition.

“It is very concerning the amount of money someone has to make to be able to live in our state,” said Tara Rollins, the executive director of the Utah Housing Coalition.

The “Out of Reach 2021” housing report calculated Utah’s housing wage to be $20.21 per hour. That equated to $3,503 monthly or $42,036 annually to afford a two-bedroom rental unit without paying more than 30% of one’s income towards rent. 

“We have hardworking people that can’t afford to live in our communities,” Rollins said, “and these are the very people that we need to help our economy.”

Utah’s housing wage was less than the report’s national housing wage of $24.90 per hour.

In addition to rising rent prices, Rollins said renters are also dealing with competition for available units due to a lack of inventory.

“We also have a lot of landlords that are terminating leases because they’re a business and they know they can get more rent than what they were charging previously,” Rollins said.

After five years in the same place, Midvale resident Jessica Kader started looking for a new apartment but hasn’t had any luck.

“I log in at least 50 times a day to see if there’s anything new,” she said.

The single mom of three children said the rental market has changed since she last looked for housing.

“The prices have gone up dramatically,” Kader said. “Even private renters who want to rent their basement are almost charging the price of their entire mortgage.”

Kader said from the time she calls about an available apartment and goes to visit the next day it’s already been rented to someone else.

“It’s like a rat race,” she said of the competition. “I’m still holding on to hope that something will be available and be perfect for me and my kids.”

The report said Utah had the 25th highest housing wage in the nation with a Fair Market Rent of a two-bedroom apartment at $1,051.

At Utah’s minimum wage of $7.25, a person would need to work 112 hours per week to afford a two-bedroom or 92 hours per week to afford a one-bedroom rental, the report said.

“Even though employers are competing for employees paying higher wages, this is still not enough for households to afford their housing only paying 30% of their income to housing,” the Utah Housing Coalition said in a press release. “In our tourist areas of the state businesses are unable to open full-time due to lack of workforce being able to live in the area.”

There are nearly 292,000 renter households in Utah, according to the report. The average renter in the state earns $15.66 per hour.

The counties in Utah with the highest housing wages are Summit County at $25.40, followed by Salt Lake County at $23.15 and Wasatch County at $22.29.

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