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A Minimum Wage Earner In L.A. Needs To Work 89 Hours A Week To Afford An Apartment

Remember this apartment in Palms? (Photo by mondolind via LAist Featured Photos on Flickr)
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Yeah, yeah. We know you've heard it before. It's expensive to rent in L.A. It's getting more expensive to rent in L.A. It's probably too expensive for you to rent in L.A.

But what about some hard numbers?

A new report from the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC) reveals how a person working in a minimum wage job ($10 per hour) would need to work an astounding 89(!!!) hours each week just to afford an average, market-rate 1-bedroom apartment in Los Angeles County. That works out to be just under 13 hours each day if the hypothetical person works seven days a week, and just shy of 18 hours a day if the person were to work five days. NLIHC's assumed market rate for a 1-bedroom rental in L.A. County is $1,154.

To view the crunch a different way, a person needs to earn $22.19 hourly to afford a market rate 1-bedroom, while keeping within the federally outlined guidelines that recommend a person spend no more than 1/3 of their household income on housing. For a 2-bedroom apartment, this number goes up to $28.65.

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L.A.'s (and California's) minimum wage will be increasing to $15 an hour over the next few years. But even $15 hourly wouldn't be enough for a person to afford a standard 1-bedroom, or even a studio apartment, without working nearly 80 hours each week.

The impossibility of affordability in Los Angeles is no secret. Rents are continuing to increase without much of an end in sight, and will continue to as long as those with money are able to pay the rate. On the flip side, those who aren't able to pay get squeezed out of the market and are forced to either move out to the far-flung suburbs, or take shelter with multiple roommates. It's no coincidence homelessness is also spiking. As housing becomes broadly unaffordable, people run out of options.

Of course, it could always be worse. The Bay Area has it even worse than Los Angeles. Where a 1-bedroom apartment in L.A. requires a person to make $22.19 hourly, one in Alameda County—where the going rate for 1-bedroom apartments is $1,663 monthly—would demand a $32 hourly wage to keep within federal work/financial guidelines.

But then again, who really works less than 40 hours a week or pays less than a third of their income on housing?

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