Affordable housing tough to find in SLO County, California

May 2017, The Tribune, San Luis Obispo Article

It’s not easy being poor in San Luis Obispo County. Or even middle class, for that matter.

High housing costs play a big role in the Central Coast’s unaffordability, as underscored by National Low Income Housing Coalition data released this week. Affordable rental housing — units that cost residents no more than 30 percent of their income — is tough to find in San Luis Obispo County and across the country, especially for those working for minimum wage.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development estimates a fair market two-bedroom apartment averages about $1,056 in the U.S. A resident would need to earn about $20.30, or $42,240 per year, to afford such housing. The federal minimum wage is currently $7.25 per hour, meaning a worker would have to work about 112 hours per week to pay for their housing.

In California, where the minimum wage is $10 per hour, the Housing Coalition’s study ranks California as having the third most expensive housing in the country. A resident must earn about $28.59 per hour, or $59,464 per year, to afford the $1,487 monthly rent for a typical two-bedroom apartment. Although the state’s minimum wage is set to go up to $15, the cost of housing still outpaces the jump in salary.