INDIANAPOLIS — June 19, 2023
Low-wage workers in Indiana are finding it increasingly difficult to afford housing, as the state’s affordable housing crisis and stagnant wages leave many struggling to make ends meet. According to a report released June 14, 2023, by the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) and Prosperity Indiana, full-time Hoosier workers need to earn $19.00 per hour to afford a modest, two-bedroom apartment at fair market rent. However, the average renter wage in Indiana remains persistently below the Midwest average, exacerbating the housing affordability gap.
The annual Out of Reach report highlights the disparity between wages and the cost of rental housing. Nationally, the 2023 “Housing Wage” for a modest two-bedroom rental home is $28.58 per hour, far exceeding the earnings of many low-wage workers. The report reveals that affordable rental homes are out of reach for millions of low-wage workers and families across the country.
In Indiana, the Housing Wage needed to afford a two-bedroom unit increased by 12% from the previous year, while the average Hoosier renter’s wage only rose by 7.5%. This discrepancy is a cause for concern, as it further deepens the challenges faced by low-wage workers in securing affordable housing. The situation disproportionately affects Black and brown Hoosiers, families with children, and vulnerable populations in urban, rural, and suburban communities.
Indiana University, one of the largest employers in Bloomington, Indiana, recently announced pay increases of up to 3 percent for staff employees, but many workers at IU won’t see that amount. Housing in Bloomington costs 40 percent more than in the rest of Indiana.
Andrew Bradley, policy director for Prosperity Indiana and board member of NLIHC, emphasized the need for a comprehensive strategy to address the shortage of affordable homes and low-paying jobs in Indiana. He stated, “To break out of this cycle of jobs that pay too little for housing that costs too much, Indiana needs to articulate a community development and economic development policy strategy that boosts the pay and quality of Indiana’s current jobs, builds pathways to better careers statewide, and increases the supply, access, and habitability standards for affordable housing in the places Hoosiers live.”
The report also reveals that the number of hours required for Hoosiers working at minimum wage to afford housing has increased. A minimum-wage renter in Indiana must work 2.2 full-time jobs over 86 hours per week to afford a modest one-bedroom apartment, or 2.6 full-time jobs over 105 hours per week to afford a two-bedroom apartment. These figures surpass the hours required in many Midwest states and even some major metropolitan areas, putting a strain on individuals and families.
Laurin Embry, Director of the Indiana Tenant Association and the Indianapolis Tenants Rights Union, shared a case in which a family’s homelessness led to the removal of their children by the Department of Child Services. She highlighted the challenges faced by low-income renters in securing affordable housing, such as non-refundable application fees and arbitrary denials. Embry stated, “Indiana’s affordable housing crisis, lack of tenant protections, and low wages make securing affordable housing a near impossible task.”
The Out of Reach report underscores the urgent need for comprehensive federal legislation and adequate funding to address the country’s long-term housing affordability crisis. Diane Yentel, President and CEO of NLIHC, emphasized that stable and affordable homes are a fundamental human right, and no person should face the risk of losing their home.
Indiana’s affordable housing crisis continues to widen the gap between housing costs and wages, leaving low-wage Hoosiers struggling to find suitable housing. As policymakers grapple with this pressing issue, the voices of those affected highlight the urgency of taking action to ensure affordable housing for all.
For more information and to access the full report, visit http://www.nlihc.org/oor
Here is a link to the press release about the report: