As costs of living go up with rising inflation, affordable housing remains out of reach for many in Alabama, according to a report by the National Low Income Housing Coalition.
An Alabamian earning minimum wage at $7.25 an hour would need to work a 90-hour week to afford a 2-bedroom apartment or would need to work 74 hours a week to afford a modest one-bedroom apartment, according to the group’s 2022 Out of Reach report.
“Alabama needs more affordable rental housing stock available for low-income renters, or we’ll see a rise in the unhoused population,” said Dr. Russell Bennett, executive director of the Low Income Housing Coalition of Alabama.
Nationwide rent increased by nearly 18 percent between the first quarters of 2021 and 2022. Meanwhile the price of food and gas and other basic costs have gone up as well.
The Low-Income Housing Coalition of Alabama is advocating Alabama invest $25 million from its American Rescue Plan funds into the state’s previously unfunded Housing Trust Fund to help address the challenge.
“Many renters have had to make difficult decisions about their budgets, sacrificing childcare, medical care, and food to maintain housing,” the Alabama group said in a press release.
Housing in Alabama remains more affordable than the national average, according to the report.
A renter would need to earn $25.82 an hour on average to pay for a modest two-bedroom home in the U.S. In Alabama, a renter would need to earn $16.31 an hour for a similar place.
“Decades of chronic underfunding for housing assistance have resulted in a housing-lottery system, where only 25 percent of eligible households receive the housing assistance they need,” said National Low Income Housing Coalition President and CEO Diane Yentel in a press release.
To address homelessness and poverty, the group advocates for funding Housing Choice Vouchers, the national housing trust fund and public housing.
“We lack only the political will to fund solutions at the scale necessary,” said Yentel.