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Rental Costs Outpace Wages

By Susan Campbell

March 14, 2012

If you're looking to rent in Connecticut, you'd better bring a lot of money.

A new report says that to afford a modest, two-bedroom apartment, a Connecticut resident needs to make $23.58 an hour.

"While average hourly wages have increased somewhat since last year, it has not been enough to keep pace with increases in rents," said Betsy Crum, Connecticut Housing Coalition executive director. "We have come to a time where everyone knows someone for whom affordable housing is an issue. They are our neighbors, our adult children, young families with children, people with disabilities, our parents. They are, in fact, ourselves."

The report, issued Tuesday by the coalition in partnership with the National Low Income Housing Coalition, figures the "housing wage" to be the amount someone has to earn in order to spend 30 percent or less of their total household income on housing -- the traditional standard.

And the numbers are disturbing.

Once again, the Stamford-Norwalk metropolitan area -- at $34.02 an hour -- is among the most expensive rental markets in the country. This year, the area ranks behind only one area -- San Francisco -- and in front of New York, Honolulu and Boston. The Danbury area is ninth in the country.

The numbers for Connecticut have always been high, said Crum, but what stood out for her this year was the state's more rural areas, which moved up to No. 3 on the list of costly areas for renters nationwide. Crum said average rents went down slightly in southern Middlesex County, but overall, high rents affect all ages all over the state.

"That's young people who never get their own homes, and seniors who have no place to go once they're ready to move out of their homes," said Crum. "It's so widespread."

From these figures, Crum says 66 percent of all Connecticut renters -- or 276,700 households -- are paying more than a third of their incomes to live in their apartments. The minimum wage in the state is $8.25, among the highest in the country.

You can read the report, "Out of Reach," at http://bit.ly/Ag3dnx.

Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant. To view other stories on this topic, search the Hartford Courant Archives at http://www.courant.com/archives.
| Last update: September 25, 2012 |
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