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When it comes to paying the bills, housing costs usually make up the largest portion of an individual or family’s budget.
Worse, too many Americans spend more than financial experts recommend—over 30% of their monthly budget—on housing. In 2017, 36.9 million experienced this problem.
This issue places “cost burdens” on those individuals, make it hard for them to afford other necessities, such as transportation, buy healthy food, and build wealth. This is a problem for minority groups especially, especially Latinos who lack access to cost-effective options throughout the country.
Affordable housing access should be considered a human right, Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley said in a statement in the National Low Income Housing Coalition’s (NLIHC) recent report, “Out of Reach.”
“As the daughter of a tenant’s rights activist in Chicago, I know first-hand the challenges many families face – families headed by a single parent like my own was growing up and who are disproportionately impacted by the kind of inequity that fuels income and wealth disparities and poor health outcomes,” Pressley said. “The lack of affordable housing is perhaps the greatest challenge to successfully ending homelessness and lifting millions of people out of poverty.”
A significant contributor to the affordable housing crisis, according to the study? Stagnating wages.
Low Wages Across America
In only 10% of U.S. counties, can a full-time worker afford a modest two-bedroom rental home at fair market rent.
The study found that employees need to make an average hourly wage of $22.96, or roughly $47,757 annually, to afford a two-bedroom apartment. However, the average hourly wage among renters is $14.32, making the affordable housing out of the reach for the low-income renters.
“Our rental housing needs have worsened considerably over the past 30 years,” said Diane Yentel, NLIHC President and CEO. “Today, housing assistance reaches fewer than one in four. The private market has lost more than 2.5 million low-cost rental units since 1990, and rent increases have significantly outpaced income growth and price increases for necessities like food and transportation.
“Wage inequality has worsened between black and white workers at all wage levels, exacerbating the racial housing inequities that have long plagued the nation. Affordable rental housing for low-income people is significantly further out of reach now than in 1989, despite a massive increase in wealth for higher-income households.”
Worse, the nation’s 11.2 million low-income renter households account for 25.7% of all renter households and 9.5% of all households in the U.S.
Low Wages Among Latinos
Huge wage-gap disparities are present in the American economy.
The gender wage-gap can cost Latinas up to $1 million over a 40-year career in some states, according to a report by the National Women’s Law Center.
Little attention has been paid to the impact of Latinos’ low-homeownership rate on America’s ongoing economic recovery, and in turn, the future of the nation’s housing market and related issues.
Even as the unemployment rate continues to drop around the country – which is a clear positive sign for the economy – the situation for many Latino and low-income families is still very bleak.
Housing Costs Significantly Impact Latino Health Care
A national survey from Enterprise Community Partners on the connection between homes and health shows that more than half of the 1,000 renters surveyed have delayed health care because they couldn’t afford it. Further, 100% of medical professionals surveyed have had at least some of their patients express concerns about affordable housing.
According to the study the most common types of medical treatment that respondents delayed were preventive routine check-ups (42%), seeking treatment while sick (38%), and getting over-the-counter medicine (35%).
High living costs can force low-income Americans to forgo receiving necessary medical care to pay for monthly expenses, the study finds.
Latinos are more likely than any other racial or ethnic group in America to lack health insurance.
Check out more stories on housing and Latino health