Report: Housing ‘out of reach’ for low-wage Hoosiers

A minimum-wage worker in Indiana needs to work a whopping 90 hours a week to be able to afford a two-bedroom rental home here, according to a report jointly released this month by the National Low Income Housing Coalition and Prosperity Indiana.

In Hamilton and Boone counties — where housing costs more than the state average — that number rises to an even more unimaginable 100 hours per week.

The national research and advocacy organization’s annual “Out of Reach” report found that full-time workers in Indiana need to earn at least $16.52 per hour to pay rent and utilities without spending more than 30 percent of their income on housing.

That so-called “housing wage” is $18.19/hour in the two suburban counties where HAND owns 137 rental units leased to low-income residents.

“Housing is a basic human need, but millions of people in America can’t afford a safe, stable home,” said Diane Yentel, NLIHC president and CEO. “The harm and trauma of this enduring challenge is laid bare during COVID-19, when millions of people in America risk losing their homes during a pandemic.”

Data gathered before the current health emergency shows that low-income households couldn’t pay fair market rent in any of Indiana’s 92 counties without exceeding the 30-percent threshold widely considered to be affordable. The impact of COVID-related income loss only makes the situation worse.

“This pandemic has certainly highlighted the very harsh reality of living at the edge of housing stability – often just one paycheck away from homelessness – and the impact it can have on the health and well-being of us all,” said Jessica Love, executive director of Prosperity Indiana, a statewide community development network.

More: Read Prosperity Indiana’s news release.