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Study: $27 hourly wage needed to afford 2-bedroom apartment in Wash. state

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(Photo courtesy: Space Needle Web Camera)

SEATTLE - A full-time worker needs to earn $26.87 per hour in order to afford a modest, two-bedroom apartment in Washington state, according to a new study released Wednesday.

And in King and Snohomish counties, a full-time worker needs to earn even more - $36.12 an hour - to afford that same apartment, the report found.

The new study, released by the Washington Low Income Housing Alliance and the National Low Income Housing Coalition, highlights the gap between what renters earn and what it costs to afford a home at the average fair market rent.

"Renters in Washington are being crushed under the pressure of rapidly rising rents, wages that can’t keep pace and an extreme shortage of available, affordable homes for people with the lowest incomes,“ said Rachael Myers, executive director of Washington Low Income Housing Alliance.

She said there are only a handful of counties in Washington state where a full-time minimum-wage worker can afford to rent a one-bedroom home.

Working at the minimum wage of $11.50 per hour in Washington, a wage earner must have nearly two full-time jobs - or work 75 hours per week - to afford a modest one-bedroom apartment. They must work 2.3 full-time jobs or work 93 hours per week to afford a two-bedroom rental home, the report found.

The typical renter in Washington earns $18.91 per hour, which is $7.96 less than the hourly wage needed to afford a modest home.

Diane Yentel, president and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, said the study's findings show that the housing crisis has reached "historic heights," and that the struggle to pay for housing is not limited to minimum wage workers.

He said projections show that seven out of 10 of the jobs projected for the greatest growth over the next decade have wages lower that the one-bedroom housing wage.

"Too often, a low wage worker must choose between paying for rent, healthcare, childcare and other basic necessities,” Yentel said.

The study found that a full-time worker must earn $29.40 per hour to afford a modest one-bedroom apartment in King and Snohomish counties.

In Pierce County, a full-time worker would need to make $22.02 to afford a two-bedroom apartment and $16.94 per hour to afford a one-bedroom apartment.