High Rents Make Housing Unaffordable for Many in Vermont

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 11, 2013
CONTACT: Erhard Mahnke, 802.233.2902, [email protected]
Jenny Montagne, 802.660.9484, [email protected]

High Rents Make Housing Unaffordable for Many in Vermont

Vermont Rents Out of Reach for Working Families

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Renters in Vermont need to earn $18.53 per hour in order to afford a basic apartment here, according to a report released today that compares the cost of rental housing with what renters can really afford. This works out to an annual income of $38,541.

The report, Out of Reach 2013, 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 report provides the Housing Wage and other housing affordability data for every state, metropolitan area, combined non metropolitan area, and county in the country. 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.

“Vermont has been and still is one of the states with the least affordable rental housing,” says Ted Wimpey, Director of the Fair Housing Project at the Champlain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity and Chairperson of the Vermont Coalition. “It is extremely difficult now for even moderate income people in Vermont to find affordable rental housing, and the situation has many serious consequences including increased homelessness and suppressed economic development in Vermont.”

Working at the minimum wage in Vermont, a family must have 2.2 wage earners working full-time, or one full-time earner working 86 hours per week at $8.60 an hour, the state’s minimum wage, to afford a modest two-bedroom apartment at $964 a month, the Fair Market Rent for a two-bedroom apartment in Vermont.

The typical renter in Vermont earns $11.67 an hour which is $6.86 less than the hourly wage needed to afford a modest unit. Someone living on Social Security Income (SSI) of $750 a month can’t afford to pay more than $225 a month, leaving a gap of $739.

According to Jeanne Montross, Executive Director of Helping Overcome Poverty’s Effects (HOPE) and Chairperson of the Vermont Coalition to End Homelessness, “The economic difficulty in recent years has caused a real housing crisis for many Vermonters. With scarcer housing subsidies and reduced funding for the creation of new affordable housing, this is creating a wave of distress that we will be dealing
with for years to come.”

Sheila Crowley, President and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, says that there is a role the federal government can play in easing the financial strain faced by low-income renters. “The federal government has used the tax code to make homeownership easier.

In reality, the benefits are largely going to higher income people with million-dollar homes. It’s time to make housing policy work better for middle and lower income people by reforming mortgage interest tax breaks and directing the savings to the National Housing Trust Fund to build and preserve homes affordable to the lowest income Americans.”

The new report comes at a time when federal housing resources are being further cut as a result of sequestration. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a Washington-based policy research organization, estimates that Vermont will lose over 300 federal rental assistance vouchers and another $500,000 in housing and community development funds. This comes on top of $3.2 million in housing and community development cuts over the last three years.

An estimated 63% of renters in Vermont do not earn enough to afford a two-bedroom unit at the Fair Market Rent. This year, Vermont is the 15th most expensive state in the nation for renters overall and the ninth most expensive for non-metropolitan areas.

For additional information, visit http://nlihc.org/oor/2013

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The Vermont Affordable Housing Coalition is Vermont’s only statewide membership organization dedicated to ensuring that all Vermonters have decent, safe and affordable housing, particularly the state’s low and moderate-income residents, elders, and people with disabilities.

For more information on the Vermont Affordable Housing Coalition, visit www.vtaffordablehousing.org

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