Every year around this time, the National Low Income Housing Coalition releases a report called Out of Reach, which analyzes housing costs vs. wage levels in communities all across the U.S. The report focuses on a statistic they call the “Housing Wage,” which is the amount of money that a worker has to earn in order to afford an average two-bedroom rental unit in his/her community.
Well, Out of Reach 2006 was released today. And the 2006 Housing Wage for the Charlottesville area has been calculated at…(drum roll please)…$15.23. Know many retail or service jobs around here that are paying that much?
The good news is that somebody can pay their rent here with a minimum wage job. They just need to work five days a week, 52 weeks a year, for 23.6 hours per day in order to make the necessary $31,680/year. And they’d be wise to get a job for the remaining 24 minutes each day, so they can start saving for their next rent increase.
Presumably the Charlottesville Chamber of Commerce will drop their opposition to a living wage now. I kid, of course: they have their head so far up their collective ass that, last month, they shot down a program envisioned by members of their own leadership program that would have acknowledged those local businesses that choose to pay their employees a living wage. The Chamber, you’ll recall, is opposed to any minimum wage; they think our existing minimum wage is just too darned high. Let’s put their staff on minimum wage and see how long that lasts.