You need to work more than 100 hours at minimum wage to afford a Charlotte apartment

You need to work more than 100 hours at minimum wage to afford a Charlotte apartment
A light rail train passes through New Bern St. at Rail Crossing Lane station heading to uptown Charlotte on Wednesday, March 28, 2018. (Credit: Observer archives)

CHARLOTTE, NC (Ely Portillo/The Charlotte Observer) - Someone earning minimum wage would have to work 103 hours a week to afford a two-bedroom apartment in Charlotte, according to a new study by the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

The report, released this week, shows that housing costs continue to outpace wages for low-income renters. Even a two-income household at minimum wage would require both earners to put in more than 50 hours a week on the clock.

""The housing crisis has reached historic heights, most negatively impacting the lowest income renters," said Diane Yentel, the coalition's CEO. "Too often, a low-wage worker must choose between paying for rent, healthcare, childcare, and other basic necessities."

The report calculates how much income renters need to earn in order to afford an apartment without spending more than 30 percent of their income on housing, the generally accepted standard for affordability. People who spend more than that amount are considered "cost-burdened," and often have to cut corners in other areas to make their budgets work.

Local reports have also pointed to the acute shortage of housing for very low-income renters in Charlotte.

""While significant progress has been made over the past decade to increase the supply of affordable housing in Charlotte, the reality is that housing is becoming less affordable," said the draft of "Housing Charlotte," a new report by city staff that was released this month.

About a third of households in Charlotte are cost-burdened, and the biggest shortage is for people making 50 percent or less of the area's median income — roughly $36,000 and below.

The National Low Income Housing Coalition report shows that to afford a two-bedroom apartment in Charlotte, a worker would need to earn $18.60 an hour. That's considered the "housing wage," at which renters can afford to live somewhat comfortably.