Housing advocates released an annual report Wednesday showing that Stamford and Danbury are among the top 10 most expensive metropolitan areas in the country for renters. The Stamford and Norwalk metropolitan area ranked number one beating out San Francisco, Honolulu, New York and Boston. Danbury came in eighth.
The 2010 “Out of Reach” report prepared by the National Low Income Housing Coalition found that on average a resident needs to earn $47,843 annually in order to afford a Connecticut apartment at fair market rent. In the Stamford and Norwalk area that number jumps to $72,000 annually.
Connecticut was ranked the sixth least affordable state requiring an average housing wage of $23 an hour. The housing wage is the amount of money a renter would have to earn without spending more than 30 percent of their income on rent. The average hourly wage in Connecticut has increased by 52 percent over the past decade.
The housing wage varies from county to county: New Haven, $22.71; Bridgeport, $24.67; Hartford, $21.06; Waterbury, $18.21; and New London, $19.54.
In Connecticut, a minimum wage worker earns $8.25 an hour. In order to afford the average two-bedroom apartment rent of $1,196 a month, a minimum wage earner must work 112 hours per week, 52 weeks per year.
Upon further study the Connecticut Housing Coalition compared the data with the Department of Labor’s occupational wage chart and found that nearly half 337 of 683 of the state’s occupations do not, on average, provide an income sufficient to afford a modest two-bedroom apartment. Those occupations include ambulance drivers, bus drivers, construction laborers, nursing aides, pre-school teachers, police and fire dispatchers, and bank tellers.
Jeffrey Freiser, executive director of the Connecticut Housing Coalition, said he hopes lawmakers and Republican Gov. M. Jodi Rell take notice of the data in the report.
“While families are struggling to pay the rent, some of them on the brink of homelessness, our state officials are cutting their lifelines,” said Freiser.
Rell has already cut over $2 million from housing and homelessness services. And just last week Rell and the legislature agreed to a deficit mitigation plan that eliminates $1 million in affordable housing financing, and reduces by over 40 percent the funding available for town grants in the Home Connecticut program.
“It is unconscionable that we are harming families with children, seniors and people with disabilities, while the very wealthy are laughing all the way to the bank,” said Freiser. “If we eliminated the sales tax exemption for yacht repairs, we could restore all the housing cuts.”