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Full-time workers need to make $20.81 an hour to afford two-bedroom apartment in Ohio

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Posted at 12:02 PM, Jul 09, 2024

The following article was originally published in the Ohio Capital Journal and published on News5Cleveland.com under a content-sharing agreement.

Ohioans need to be making at least $20.81 an hour working a full-time job to be able to afford a “modest” two-bedroom apartment, according to a new report by the National Low Income Housing Coalition and the Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio.

This is a 9% increase compared to last year’s report — which was $19.09 an hour, said COHHIO Executive Director Amy Riegel.

“Wages for Ohio’s most common jobs have increased significantly since the pandemic,” she said. “Employers are trying to keep pace with inflation, but the skyrocketing cost of rent has effectively erased these wage gains, pushing affordable homes out of reach for a large swath of Ohio’s workforce.”

Of the 10 jobs with the most employees in Ohio, only general operations managers and registered nurses earn more than $20.81 an hour, according to the 2024 Out of Reach Ohio report. Fast food workers, stockers, cashiers, retail salespeople, laborers, customer service representatives, assemblers, and home health aides all make less than $20 an hour.

“That is creating a great divide between what people earn and what they are able to afford,” Riegel said.

Ohio’s minimum wage is $10.45 an hour, meaning someone with a minimum wage job would have to work 80 hours a week to be able to afford a two-bedroom apartment. The Fair Market Rent for a two-bedroom apartment in Ohio is $1,082, according to the report.

Renters in Ohio’s three biggest cities need to be making even more, according to the report.

Columbus renters need to earn $25.04 an hour, Cincinnati renters need to be making $22.98 an hour, and Cleveland renters need to earn $21.31 an hour.

“We must act now to address these needs and to help our communities provide the support that is necessary to be able to help people reach housing stability,” Riegel said.

Ohio landlords filed nearly 108,000 eviction cases last year — the most since 2015 — and homelessness in Ohio increased 7% in 2023 over the previous year, according to COOHIO.

Rising rents can be especially tough for aging Ohioans and people with disabilities living on a fixed income.

“Ohioans who worked hard for 40 years or more should be enjoying their golden years,” Riegel said. “Instead, many are rationing medications and wondering how they’re going to feed themselves and pay the rent.”

It’s no secret the country is experiencing a housing crisis, particularly when it comes to finding affordable housing.

“Addressing the challenge requires long-term federal investments in affordable housing,” NLIHC President and CEO Diane Yentel said in a statement. “As evidenced during the COVID-19 pandemic, federal policies and resources play a pivotal role in establishing a robust housing safety net, preventing evictions and homelessness, and mitigating housing instability among renters with the lowest incomes.”

The U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled that cities can enforce bans on people sleeping outside, despite having nowhere else to go. The high court upheld an Oregon city’s policy of penalizing homeless people who slept outside because the city did not have adequate shelter.

The case is expected to have broad ramifications for how cities respond to homelessness.

What’s happening at the Ohio Statehouse?

Last year’s state budget created Ohio’s housing tax credit program and the single-family housing tax credit program.

Five bipartisan lawmakers formed the Senate Select Committee on Housing, which conducted hearings across the state for nearly a year to learn more about the housing challenges communities are dealing with.

They recently released a report with 23 recommendations that includes ideas on increasing opportunities for homeownership, consumer protection for renters and homebuyers, alternative forms of housing, tax policy, increasing density, capacity-building grants for local governments, zoning technical assistance, third-party review of services, and modifications to the Ohio Housing Finance Agency.

“We are seeing increased interest in what is happening in housing at the state level,” Riegel said. “However, what we are seeing is that there still isn’t a great interest. There still isn’t a lot of dedication to addressing the needs of those who are extremely low income, those who may be on fixed incomes, and to those who are the most vulnerable within our communities.”