For Immediate Release: No Affordable Housing Available in Savannah for Minimum Wage Workers

May 25th, 2016 by

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 25, 2016

Contact: Kate Blair   | 912.232.6747  |  kblair@stepupsavannah.org

In order to afford a modest, two-bedroom apartment at Fair Market Rent in Savannah, renters need to earn $17.25 per hour. This is Savannah’s 2016 Housing Wage, revealed in a national report released today. The report, Out of Reach 2016, was jointly released by the National Low Income Housing Coalition, a Washington, DC-based research and advocacy organization, and Georgia ACT, a statewide membership organization of community development and housing counseling agencies.

Every year, Out of Reach reports on the Housing Wage for all states, counties, and metropolitan areas in the United States. The report highlights the gap between what renters earn and what it costs to afford rent at fair market value.

“That the Savannah area is listed among the most expensive of Georgia’s rental markets comes as no real surprise,” said Suzanne Donovan, director of Step Up Savannah.  “The average rent of $897 for a two-bedroom here means families need to earn almost $36,000 a year to afford a place without being overly burdened. One of the toughest requests we’re faced with at Step Up is from families looking for housing. We’ve got thousands on long wait lists for public housing neighborhoods and housing vouchers in our community, and an aging housing stock that lacks proper weatherization, just to name a few problems. We regularly talk with mothers and fathers on the verge of eviction, already paying up to 50% of their income on housing.” Donovan points out that Savannah has a mechanism that can make a difference, a municipal Affordable Housing Fund, but it needs a dedicated revenue stream to keep up with the demand for construction or rehabilitation of housing that working families can afford.

The federal minimum wage has remained at $7.25 an hour without an increase since 2009, generating debate and calls to raise the wage both at the state and federal level. In no state, even those where the minimum wage has been set above the federal standard, can a minimum wage renter working a 40 hour work week afford a two-bedroom rental unit at the average Fair Market Rent. Working at the minimum wage of $7.25/hr. in Georgia, a family must have 2.2 wage earners working full-time, or one full-time earner working 90 hours at the minimum wage, to afford a modest two-bedroom apartment.

“The Out of Reach data reflect a grim reality across the nation. There is no place in the United States where a minimum wage worker can afford a two-bedroom apartment,” said Diane Yentel, President and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition. “We as a nation must respond by investing in affordable housing for the lowest income households in America. The new national Housing Trust Fund is one solution, but it will require many more resources to address the need.”

For a look at the full report, visit: http://www.nlihc.org/oor