NORFOLK, Va. — Minimum wage workers can’t afford to rent a two-bedroom home or apartment anywhere in America.
That’s according to a new report from the National Low Income Housing Coalition.
One year ago, Governor Ralph Northam signed a bill that will gradually raise Virginia’s minimum wage from $7.25 an hour to $15 by 2026.
"It is impossible for anybody to support themselves -- let alone their families -- on $7.25 an hour. Think about that," he said as he signed the bill.
The law went into effect in May, raising the minimum wage to $9.50.
Starting January 1, 2022, Virginia’s minimum wage will rise again to $11 an hour.
During Congresswoman Elaine Luria’s Virginia Beach town hall on Thursday night, she said they’re pushing to implement that same gradual increase federally.
"$7.25 is not a living wage," she told the crowd.
Now, according to a new report from the National Low Income Housing Coalition, there is no state, county, or city in the U.S. where a full-time, minimum-wage worker can afford a two-bedroom rental.
Additionally, there are only about 220 counties out of 3,000 where a minimum wage worker can afford a one-bedroom.
Let’s break this down.
The report says you need to earn $24.90 an hour to afford a two-bedroom at Fair Market Rent. The average Fair Market Rent is $1,061 a month for a one-bedroom and $1,295 a month for a two-bedroom.
Here in Virginia, one would need to make $24.41 per hour to afford a two-bedroom rental. If you make minimum wage, the report says you would have to work 103 hours a week.
During her town hall, Luria was asked how she defines a living wage.
"For a family of an average two-bedroom house or apartment in this area, it’s about $1,200, and if someone makes $2,400 a month, should half of their pre-tax income go just to put a roof over their head?"
But according to this report, with housing prices so high, even $15 an hour isn’t high enough.