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Another Article to Consider: 'Poor' Cannot Afford Things, Like Rent. - Sauce1977 [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]

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Another Article to Consider: 'Poor' Cannot Afford Things, Like Rent. [Dec. 21st, 2004|05:00 am]

Here's the link to peruse the article . . . it's one of a few popping up around the internet.


Report: Most one- and two-bedroom rentals in the United States unaffordable to nation's poor

Associated Press Writer

WASHINGTON (AP) - Most Americans who rely on just a full-time job earning the federal minimum wage cannot afford the rent and utilities on a one- or two-bedroom apartment, an advocacy group on low-income housing reported Monday.

For a two-bedroom rental alone, the typical worker must earn at least $15.37 an hour - nearly three times the federal minimum wage - the National Low Income Housing Coalition said in its annual "Out of Reach" report.

That figure assumes that a family spends no more than 30 percent of its gross income on rent and utilities - anything more is generally considered unaffordable by the government.

Yet many poor Americans are paying more than they can afford because wage increases haven't kept up with increases in rent and utilities, said Danilo Pelletiere, the coalition's research director.

The median hourly wage in the United States is about $14, and more than one-quarter of the population earns less than $10 an hour, the report said.

"A lot of people continue to be squeezed out," said Judy Levey, executive director of the Homeless and Housing Coalition of Kentucky. "Housing here is relatively inexpensive, but because the wages are so low, people can't afford housing,"

The report quoted federal Bureau of Labor Statistics data that showed hourly wages rising about 2.6 percent over the past year, slower than the 2.9 percent rise in rents recorded in the Consumer Price Index.

In addition, Pelletiere said, government spending on Section 8 rental vouchers, which helps 2 million Americans - mainly poor - pay rent hasn't kept up with demand.

The study analyzed data from the Census Bureau and the Housing and Urban Development Department to derive the hourly wage figures.

In only four of the nation's 3,066 counties could a full-time worker making the federal minimum wage afford a typical one-bedroom apartment, the coalition said. Three were in Illinois: Clay, Crawford and Wayne counties; the other was Washington County, Fla.

California topped all states in the hourly wage needed to afford a two-bedroom apartment, at $21.24, followed by Massachusetts at $20.93. Rounding out the top five were New Jersey, Maryland and New York.

States with more residents in rural areas were generally the most affordable, although no state's housing wage was lower than the federal minimum wage of $5.15 an hour, which has not changed since 1997.

West Virginia was the lowest at $9.31 an hour for a two-bedroom rental, followed by North Dakota, Arkansas, Mississippi and Alabama.

Pelletiere said the coalition's data for 2004 could not be compared with previous years because of changes in the way that HUD calculated "Fair Market Rents," which is the cost of rent and most utilities for a typical apartment. The fair rent varies widely by metropolitan area.

Overall, though, utility costs appear to be rising at a faster rate than rents, Pelletiere said. Add in stagnant wages and the housing situation for the nation's poor "has gotten worse over the last year," he said.


I hope I am not considered one of the 'poor' mentioned in the article.

Let's be clear about what is 'poor.'

Poor folks walk the streets because they have no homes. They don't own computers. They must try to find some money each day for minimal amounts of food.

The article seems to categorize 'poor,' on first glance, as those who cannot afford necessities. However, I figure that many folks cannot afford necessities, or at least all of them, without taking on debt.

In my current situation, I find myself 'broke.' I have running debt in the thousands, and I have no savings to rely . . . however, I am far from poor, despite having no personal ability to pay for my living expenses.

In the past year, I lived in Los Angeles. In the report, it claims that the average income for the average 2 bed/2 bath is related to about 21 dollars an hour . . . certainly the local costs of living, on average, have a part in the overall averages. Still, 'poor' to me sounds like a word to describe someone without money and a place to live.

I still wonder how 'poor' can be defined, considering that the minimum wage in the United States can translate into a wealthier sum in other countries.


I suppose that we could consider the solutions.

One idea, a wage increase of the national minimum, would cause catastrophic results if implemented in a percentage higher than 5 to 10 percent, I'd wager . . .

Imagine if $5.15/hr. went up to $15.45/hr., for a moment.

Without doing any calculations or hard research, I would imagine that a minimum salary requirement for the nation's employers would result in a close percentage hike in costs of . . . most everything.

Just imagine a wage hike from 5 to 15 . . . I don't think it would be possible.

I think a better focus for the article would help clarify 'poor' from 'can't afford' . . . I see a clear difference.

Most of the United States . . . the population cannot afford many things. It is the way our country thrives . . . since the dawn of mass credit . . . our nation has developed a trend of net debtors, starting from around early adulthood to well into the 40s . . . sometimes longer for many individuals.

Also, what is 'necessary' is also relative to the individual. An Orange County, CA, teenager from a family income over six figures might not be able to do without a few things that most of us would consider to have in our wildest dreams.

I can't live easily without the internet. However, all we really need is food, shelter, water . . . those are 'necessities.'


[User Picture]From: sauce1977
2004-12-21 02:22 am (UTC)

It doesn't list the figure for a 2 bed/bath . . . just a 2 bedroom. That has no bath qualifier.
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[User Picture]From: mostlie_sunnie
2004-12-21 06:17 am (UTC)
The lives of America's "poor" are far, far better than much of the rest of the world. Most Americans don't realize how frickin' good they've got it.
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[User Picture]From: sauce1977
2004-12-21 06:26 am (UTC)
I agree.

We still have the greatest nation in current times . . . despite the ills of our society, to be born here is a fortune for all people, even the homeless.
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[User Picture]From: notoriousmdc
2004-12-21 09:34 am (UTC)
I echo that double.

Having walked the streets of Mexico City, I know what poor is. I've seen it with my own eyes, and poor folks in this country have it pretty good, relatively speaking.
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[User Picture]From: sauce1977
2004-12-21 12:05 pm (UTC)
The country features entire families in what could be equated . . . sheer destitution, I think is the appropriate word.

However, in comparison to other parts . . .

I'm pretty sure that our unemployment rate is much lower than other areas of the world, and I am definitely sure that our homeless have better realities available than other parts.
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[User Picture]From: mizcrank
2004-12-21 06:32 am (UTC)
are you trying to convince yourself to move back to detroit?
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[User Picture]From: sauce1977
2004-12-21 07:20 am (UTC)
It's too late. I already did.

As for self-convince . . . I couldn't find an apartment in the Southland that would accept me for rent on studios and one-beds . . .

Anything under 900 a month in rent in LA usually doesn't allow for co-signers. I found plenty of decent places in decent neighborhoods for 700-850, but those places denied me because I wasn't working at that point.

The only places that would take me were places that would allow for a co-signer, and the rent on those started at over 900 dollars. I had one place at 955 dollars . . . for a studio. That included gas, but the other utilities would have been out of pocket.

I was in line for a job in auto-sales. However, I was looking at 100 percent commission. I didn't want to risk family money to be locked into rent for a year . . . if I couldn't pay . . . my family would help . . . if I didn't sell, or I was let go . . . the bills would begin to kill more than just me. I also did not want to run a risk of having to break the lease. That kind of negative credit mark is something that I'm not in the business to create for myself.

I did pretty good under the emergency circumstances . . . I was on the verge of landing an apartment and a job within just about 3 weeks' time . . . the problem was the risk. I couldn't afford to lose in the scenario.
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[User Picture]From: mizcrank
2004-12-21 10:23 pm (UTC)
i didn't realize you were going back for good.

honestly, downtown detroit is a great place to live. if you consider it, check out the lafayette pavilion apts...just across the freeway from greektown. my 1 bdr was 700...and spacious.
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[User Picture]From: sauce1977
2004-12-21 11:42 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the tip!

I'm weighing the options, but I need to find work . . . then, if I know I'll be sticking with 'em, I'll move right on top of them.

I don't believe in a commute. People should live on top of work. It would save the world from more waste of petroleum resources.

I'm not even a hippie . . . I just don't like autos.
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From: zboson
2004-12-21 08:15 am (UTC)
"Poor" means living beneath a certain standard. It means that though you may have a place to live, that place may not necessarily be habitable for humans. It means that though you eat, you may be malnourished because your food isn't giving you the nutrients you need. You may be dressed, but your coat may not keep you warm because it is threadbare. I've heard a lot of comments from people who don't know what real poverty is, and you don't necessarily have to be homeless to suffer from extreme poverty. I've been pretty broke before. I've actually been homeless before, and I wouldn't say I've experienced even a fraction of what these people suffer through every day. My mother is in social work in a rural area of Detroit, where most of the working poor live in trailer homes. These homes aren't heated very well. They don't get enough from the government in order to eat, so they often supplement their groceries with wild game. The children are usually sick. Actually, my mom says at any given time usually someone in the house is sick, because they can't afford regular health care. They aren't getting a very good education, and jobs are scarce. Yes, they get the "necessities" - after all, they're still alive.

Still, their standard of living is considerably lower than what many of us would consider acceptable. That, to me, is pretty sick considering these people are struggling to survive, working as hard as they can, while other people in this country won't even deign to do their own housework. Yes, we do tend to forget how good we have it when we aren't confronted with abject poverty each and every day.

Debt is the bane of this country. You should not have to take on debt in order to support yourself. That debt often forces lower-income people into more dire financial situations, or even bankruptcy. I personally live hand-to-mouth, but I carry precisely $0 in debt and live quite comfortably. But then I make more than most. Still, I have no savings to speak of besides a 401k (which is lovely to have). I don't feel very secure financially, but I'm certainly not poor.
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[User Picture]From: sauce1977
2004-12-21 08:34 am (UTC)
The key factor in our country's malaise would be the financial program that has developed.

In Econ classes from school, the general age for 'net debtors' runs from around age 20-40. The theory is that after 40, the person's employment reaches a higher level of pay around that point, but more so, they've had enough years in the system to be able to start saving on their paychecks.

By the time the 40 year old reaches 65 (retirement), the money becomes fixed, and the next classification of the pattern is reached.

The problem rests in the 'net debtor' category.

In a perfect world, all young adults would be able to work at entry wages which at least would afford decent income to cover all bills and live in a comfortable housing situation.

The 'standard of living' from the government is generally outdated. The 'poverty level' is a laughable amount . . . . the models from decades in the past simply do not fit today's reality.
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From: zboson
2004-12-21 05:31 pm (UTC)
What really sucks is the way the USA has made it difficult and undesirable to pursue a post-secondary education. You don't necessarily make more when you have a degree, and you'll have far more debt than non-graduates do. Most of the graduates I know who are my age make less money than I do and carry more debt - and I mean, tons of debt. I used to think not having a degree was detrimental. No longer!
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[User Picture]From: sauce1977
2004-12-21 11:41 pm (UTC)
There really isn't any benefit to being educated in the United States, most often . . . as specifically how you mention.

I wish I had dropped out of high school.
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[User Picture]From: fruitpunch76
2004-12-22 12:22 pm (UTC)

No you don't....

We've gone over this one....the chain of events that brought you where you are would not have accomplished had you NOT gotten your degree, including meeting me!!!!
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[User Picture]From: sauce1977
2004-12-22 12:26 pm (UTC)

Re: No you don't....

I'm in no position to argue with you.

Anyway, I love you and stuff.
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