No Affordable Housing in Wisconsin for Minimum Wage Worker

In order to afford a modest, two-bedroom apartment at Fair Market Rent in Wisconsin, renters need to earn $15.92 per hour. In Madison, this number is higher—renters need to earn $18 per hour to affordable a modest, two-bedroom apartment. Housing wages for each community in Wisconsin were revealed in a national report released today. The report, Out of Reach 2016, was jointly released by the National Low Income Housing Coalition, a Washington, DC based research and advocacy organization, and The Wisconsin Partnership for Housing Development. Every year, Out of Reach reports on the Housing Wage for all states, counties, and metropolitan areas in the country. The report highlights the gap between what renters earn and what it costs to afford rent at fair market value. “This gap is growing as rents in the Dane County area rise more quickly than increases in income, making it tougher for low income workers to afford a stable place to live,” said Katherine Kamp, Executive Director of the Wisconsin Partnership for Housing Development.

The federal minimum wage has remained at $7.25 an hour without an increase since 2009, generating debate and calls to raise the wage both at the state and federal level. In no state, even those where the minimum wage has been set above the federal standard, can a minimum wage renter working a 40 hour work week afford a one-bedroom rental unit at the average Fair Market Rent. Working at the minimum wage of $7.25 per hour in Wisconsin, a family must have at least two wage earners working full-time, or one full-time earner working 88 hours per week, to afford a modest two-bedroom apartment. In Madison, one full-time worker earning minimum wage would have to work 99 hours per week to afford a two bedroom unit.

The typical renter in Madison earns $13.27, which is $4.73 less than the hourly wage needed to afford a modest unit. “The Out of Reach data reflect a grim reality across the nation. There is no place in the United States where a minimum wage worker can afford a two-bedroom apartment,” said Diane Yentel, President and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition. “We as a nation must respond by investing in affordable housing for the lowest income households in America. The new National Housing Trust Fund is a critical solution, but it must be significantly expanded to address the need.” For additional information, visit