New Report Finds Vermont Renters Still Cannot Afford the Rent

The State’s High Rents are Out of Reach for Working Families

In order to afford a modest, two-bedroom apartment at the Fair Market Rent in Vermont, renters need to earn $19.36 per hour, or $40,272 a year. This is Vermont’s 2014 Housing Wage, revealed in a report released today. The report, Out of Reach 2014, was jointly released by the National Low Income Housing Coalition, a Washington, DC-based research and advocacy organization, and the Vermont Affordable Housing Coalition.

The Housing Wage is the hourly wage a family must earn, working 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year, to be able to afford the rent and utilities for a safe and modest home in the private housing market.

An estimated 62% of renters in Vermont do not earn enough to afford a two-bedroom unit at the average statewide Fair Market Rent of $1,007.

Working at the minimum wage in Vermont, a family must have 2.2 wage earners working full-time, or one full-time earner working 89 hours per week at minimum wage, to afford a modest two-bedroom apartment. While it is possible for a household to work more than one job to make ends meet, a 2011 Vermont study showed that 62% of the state’s households had only one, or less than one full time workers.

“Vermont continues to be one of the states with the least affordable rental housing,” said Ted Wimpey, Director of the Fair Housing Project at the Champlain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity and Chair of the Vermont Affordable Housing Coalition.  “It is extremely difficult for even moderate income people in Vermont to find affordable rental housing. The situation has many serious consequences, including increased homelessness and greater numbers of families struggling to get by.”

The typical renter in Vermont earns $11.24 an hour, which is $8.12 less than the hourly wage needed to afford a modest unit.

According to Jeanne Montross, Executive Director of Helping Overcome Poverty’s Effects (HOPE) and Chair of the Vermont Coalition to End Homelessness, “Although there have been some recent, small signs of  economic recovery, wages – especially for those at the bottom of the economic ladder – continue to stagnate. Real income has actually fallen for low income households, while the costs of housing, heat, and food continue to climb. This, in combination with a reduction in the availability of housing subsidies, makes it a given that we will see more and more families become homeless.”

Greater investment in our stock of affordable housing is needed at both the federal and state levels. By funding the National Housing Trust Fund, Vermont would receive at least $3 million a year, which would stimulate the production of new affordable homes for Vermont’s lowest income residents and create quality jobs in the construction industry. By fully funding the Vermont Housing and Conservation Board, the state would further increase its investments in much needed new housing and the Vermont economy, while helping to offset the federal cutbacks of the last several years.

“We can no longer ignore the dire need for affordable housing when three out of every four extremely low income households nationally have to spend more than half of their income on housing costs,” said NLIHC President and CEO Sheila Crowley. “Closing this gap is achievable through the National Housing Trust Fund.”

Additional Facts:

  • The national Housing Wage is $18.92 in 2014
  • Vermont is the 13th most expensive state in the nation for renters
  • Vermont is the ninth most expensive state for non-metropolitan/rural areas
  • The Housing Wage is up 26% since the Great Recession began in 2007
  • The Housing Wage in the greater metropolitan area of Burlington is $25.17, 13% higher than the state average

Every year, Out of Reach provides the Housing Wage and other housing affordability data for every state, metropolitan area, combined non-metropolitan area, and county in the country. For additional information, visit: http://www.nlihc.org/oor/2014.

Find out more about the facts and figures of Vermont’s 2014 Out of Reach report here.

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