Study: Hamilton County minimum wage workers must work 60 hours a week to afford an average apartment

Research by a housing advocacy group using HUD data finds that low-wage workers must work long hours to afford housing in Greater Cincinnati

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Nick Swartsell
Cincinnati

New research shows that renters in Greater Cincinnati communities making minimum wage — and even well above that — must work very long hours to afford rent in the region's housing market.

The study by the National Low Income Housing Coalition uses data from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to track rent prices in relation to wages in communities across the country.

In Greater Cincinnati, a renter making the state's $8.30 an hour minimum wage would need to work 60 hours a week to afford a typical one-bedroom apartment costing $643 a month, or 78 hours a week to afford a two-bedroom unit at $845. Those prices are what HUD has identified as the area's fair market rents. Workers in the region need to make at least $16.25 to be able to comfortably afford the average two-bedroom apartment. That assumes renters are paying 30 percent of their income toward rent — the threshold HUD deems affordable.

As you might expect, parts of Cincinnati are more expensive. Renters in the 45202 zip code, which encompasses downtown, Over-the-Rhine, Mount Adams and parts of the East End, need to make at least $19.81 an hour to afford an average two-bedroom apartment. That zip code encompasses a very desirable area, of course, but other traditionally lower-income neighborhoods also have fairly high prices of entry. In 45206, which encompasses most of Walnut Hills, residents need to make $16 an hour to afford the average apartment. Zip code 45214, which includes some of the West End and South Fairmount, among other neighborhoods, requires $14 an hour for a two-bedroom unit.

Cincinnati apartments generally require more minimum wage hours than those needed to afford an apartment statewide, the research shows. Minimum wage workers across the state would need to work 58 hours a week to afford the average two-bedroom apartment. 

Roughly 36 percent of the region's residents are renters, according to data cited in the report. You can read the full study here.