COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH)–Affordable housing is beyond reach for a growing number of Ohioans, according to a new report that examines the problem’s severity in Columbus and across the Buckeye State.
The annual “Out of Reach” report, released Wednesday by the National Low Income Housing Coalition, tracks how much money a person would have to earn to afford an apartment or other rental at Fair Market Rent in their community.
The report defines “affordable” as 30% or less of a person’s income.
A person in Ohio needs to make $16.64 per hour, according to this year’s report, to afford a two-bedroom home at the Fair Market Rent of $865 per month. That’s up from $15.99-an-hour in 2020.
“Just since the beginning of this year, nationally, rents increased by 7.5%, which is about three times faster than the usual increase in prices,” said Marcus Roth, a spokesperson for the Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio, which collaborated on the report.
“Wages aren’t increasing anywhere near that fast,” he said. In just one year, the Fair Market Rent for a two-bedroom unit in Columbus rose $33, from $832 per month to $865.
While Ohio only has the 41st-highest “housing wage” among the 50 states and Washington, D.C., according to the report, Roth cautions that the situation is still dire, particularly in Ohio’s larger cities.
In Columbus, a person would have to make $19.83-an-hour to afford a two-bedroom home at the fair market rate of $1,031 per month. But the average renter in the capital city falls short of that number, making $16.99 per hour.
“We looked at the 10 most common jobs in Ohio by the number of people working in those jobs,” Roth said. “Out of those 10 most common jobs, only four of them actually pay enough to be able to afford a two-bedroom apartment.”
The report finds that the average worker in the retail and food service industries is getting priced out of Ohio’s rental market, which Roth said can impact all sectors of the economy.
“It increases costs on the healthcare system, for example,” Roth said. “People who are experiencing homelessness tend to cycle through emergency rooms a lot, in some cases just to stay warm and get out of the cold.”
Minimum wage in Ohio is $8.80 per hour. In order to afford a one-bedroom home in Columbus at that wage, a person would have to work 72 hours per week.
“We can expect that we’re going to have a lot more people just struggling to keep the roof over their heads,” Roth said, noting that the federal eviction moratorium ends July 31.
Roth advised people in Columbus falling behind on rent to apply for rental assistance through IMPACT Community Action. But he warned that assistance programs nationwide are facing a backlog due to the surge in demand.
“We’re asking both landlords and tenants to exercise patience because these agencies are overwhelmed,” Roth said. “There’s so many people in need, and it’s taking a little while to get the money out the door. So please, be patient.”