In order to afford a modest, two-bedroom apartment at fair market rent in Delaware, full-time workers need to earn $22.52 per hour.
Delaware’s 2021 housing wage was revealed in a national report released July 14. The report, titled Out of Reach, was jointly released by the National Low Income Housing Coalition, a research and advocacy organization dedicated solely to achieving affordable and decent homes for people with the lowest incomes, and Housing Alliance Delaware, a statewide nonprofit whose mission is to serve Delawareans by advancing housing opportunities, ending homelessness and promoting vibrant communities.
This year, the Out of Reach report is being released 16 months into a devastating pandemic which has created enormous suffering. In addition to the lives lost, COVID-19 also created an economic crisis that pushed millions of low-wage workers out of work. The public health crisis is not over, but as the country begins to imagine life after COVID, it is imperative that stakeholders also address the profound economic fallout for the lowest-income and most marginalized community members.
Prior to the pandemic, more than 7.6 million extremely low-income renters were already spending more than half of their limited incomes on housing costs, sacrificing other necessities to do so. After a year of job losses, furloughs, and limited hours, many of these households will be even worse off.
“Housing was a haven for many during the pandemic – a place to remain safe, to work, to attend school. However, for some of our neighbors, access to safe, affordable housing was impossible,” said Rachel Stucker, executive director of Housing Alliance Delaware. “The past year has amplified the need to for Delaware to invest resources in affordable rental housing.”
Low-wage workers everywhere are struggling to afford housing. In no state, even those where the minimum wage has been set above the federal standard, can a minimum-wage renter afford a modest two-bedroom rental unit at fair market rent. In Delaware, the typical renter earns $18.11/hour, which is $4.41 less than the hourly wage needed to afford a modest 2-bedroom rental unit in the First State. Working at the minimum wage of $9.25 in Delaware, a wage earner must have two full-time jobs/work 80 hours per week to afford a modest one-bedroom apartment.
“Housing is a basic human need and should be regarded an unconditional human right,” said Diane Yentel, NLIHC president and CEO. “With the highest levels of job losses since the Great Depression and a pandemic that continues to spread, low-income workers and communities of color are disproportionately harmed. The enduring problem of housing unaffordability ultimately calls for bold investments in housing programs that will ensure stability in the future. Without a significant federal intervention, housing will continue to be out of reach. This leaves millions susceptible to the overwhelming consequences of congressional inaction.”
To access the report, go to reports.nlihc.org/oor/delaware.