Day 47

It’s Friday, and I’d say go celebrate, but many of you are back in a state of lockdown, so there’s nowhere to go. For those like me who work in the service industry (restaurants, retail), there is no such thing as weekends.

Well, isn’t it interesting that, even during the formerly “normal” times, that thing people call “affordable housing” is far from it? A group called the National Low Income Housing Coalition defines affordable as less than 30% monthly income goes toward rent. Even in the least-expensive state (Arkansas), the average rent on a 2-bedroom place requires a person make $14.19/hour. So-called “essential workers” only make roughly $11-13/hour. California, naturally, is the highest, requiring an income of just shy of $37/hour. Someone making the paltry federal minimum wage of $7.25 would have to work 97 hours per week to afford 2-bedroom rent, and 79 hours for a 1-bedroom. Basically, 2 full-time jobs plus a side gig just to have a roof. That’s not even counting other expenses!

Just recently I heard a radio ad for a real estate agent here locally, saying that there were “affordable houses” being built somewhere here in town. The catch: starting at the high- $270s. So that’s affordable? Housing prices have far outpaced wages for years now. Hell, go back to 1913. If you had $100 back in 1913 and didn’t ever spend it, that $100 from then would only be worth roughly $3.87 today. Put in a more recent perspective, $100 worth of groceries bought in 2000, today the same stuff would run you nearly $150. The value of the dollar has fallen by 33% in twenty years and 50% in thirty ($100 in 1990 costs nearly double now). However the federal minimum wage hasn’t gone up in 11 years. Is it any wonder why people can’t afford mortgage or rent by themselves anymore, that they need roommates to help foot the housing bill?

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