Average Atlanta apartments not affordable for many, report says

To afford an average apartment, low-wage earners in Atlanta must work many hours of overtime or else live with other wage-earners, according to a report from a national advocacy group released this afternoon.

Georgia is not even one of the more expensive states, in fact it ranks 27th – pretty much in the middle of the pack, according to the report, released by the National Low Income Housing Coalition, a Washington, DC-based research and advocacy organization, and Georgia ACT, a network of housing and community development organizations.

The annual report means to highlight the gap between what renters earn and what it costs to afford rent at fair market value.

In no state – not even those with higher minimum wages – can a minimum wage renter afford the average two-bedroom apartment working just 40 hours a week

The report is intended to highlight the gap between low-wage earnings and the average rents. Moreover, advocates say the supply of affordable apartments in some areas is dwindling.

“In many counties of the metro Atlanta region, affordable apartment complexes and small but solid houses are being torn down to make way for luxury housing and more retail, while the average wage-earner is priced out,” said Kate Little, chief executive of Georgia group.

The report concluded that a “modest, two-bedroom apartment” at fair market rent and utilities would cost $949 a month in metro Atlanta. To afford that, renters need to earn $18.25 per hour, or about $37,960 a year, the report said.

For the state overall, where 36 percent of all households are renters, the wage needed is $16.30 an hour, the report found.

The minimum wage in Georgia is $7.25 an hour. In metro Atlanta, the median wage – meaning half of wage earners are above and half below – is $17.47 an hour, according to the most recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

A number of Atlanta jobs pay on average about half that median, according to the BLS: Construction laborers, for example, make an average of $14.08 an hour, retail salespersons $11.85, cashiers $9.38, cooks at fast food restaurants, $8.91.

Typically, the states with the much higher pay also have more expensive housing.

Among the lower 48, the most costly state is California, where a worker needs $28.59 an hour to afford an average two-bedroom apartment, according to the housing report. The most affordable state is West Virginia, where a job paying $13.17 an hour would cover an average two-bedroom apartment.

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