Study: Idaho's Growing Housing Affordability Crisis 

“The people that this affects the most are those living paycheck to paycheck, working but having to stretch those earnings."

click to enlarge NATIONAL LOW INCOME HOUSING COALITION
  • National Low Income Housing Coalition
A new study confirms what many Idahoans already know: Housing costs are too great for a majority of Gem State residents. Among the growing list of Idahoans who earn less than the so-called “housing wage” are bank tellers, child care workers, preschool teachers, restaurant servers and nursing assistants.

According to new research from National Low Income Housing Coalition, fair market rent for a two-bedroom apartment now averages about $800 statewide.That means in order to comfortably pay rent and utilities, a renter must make about $15.44 per hour. But the same report affirms that the average Idahoan is currently earning $12.19 per hour.

“This is telling us that many households and families are paying more than they can afford to cover the cost of a modest home in Boise,” said Alejandra Cerna, policy analyst with the Idaho Asset Building Network, a division of the Boise-based nonprofit Jannus. “The people that this affects the most are those living paycheck to paycheck, working but having to stretch those earnings.”

The same analysis revealed that while housing prices and rents have steadily increased, wages have failed to keep up. In fact, the last time the Idaho minimum wage was raised was nearly a decade ago, when it was bumped from $6.55 to $7.25 per hour.

“These high housing costs can really impact a family’s budget and affect expenses such as food, medical bills and other necessities,” said Cerna. “Also, businesses are finding that housing unaffordability [is] limiting their ability to grow.”

In order to start the conversation about Idaho’s housing crisis, Cerna said, developers and investors need to understand that the issue directly impacts Idaho families.

“We really need to start talking about housing affordability as an issue that affects multiple families, urban growth and communities,” she said, adding that there are some possible solutions. “Programs that work to help cover the cost of rent [are] certainly one area. Policies should also be set to ensure more affordable homes are being constructed in those places where people need them the most.”
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