Illinois stats from Out of Reach 2018Every candidate seeking office should have a plan to address the fact that renters in Illinois must earn more than $20 per hour to afford a two-bedroom apartment

For Immediate Release: June 13, 2018
For more information contact: Timm Krueger, Communications Consultant, Housing Action Illinois at or 312-939-6074 ext. 205

In order to afford a modest, two-bedroom apartment in Illinois, renters need to earn $20.34 per hour. This is Illinois’ 2018 Housing Wage, revealed today in Out of Reach 2018: The High Cost of Housing, a national report jointly released in Illinois by Chicago-based Housing Action Illinois and DC-based National Low Income Housing Coalition. This means that to afford a two-bedroom home without paying more than 30% of their income on housing costs, a person earning Illinois’ minimum wage ($8.25 per hour) must work 99 hours per week just to make ends meet.

The report calculates the Housing Wage for every county in Illinois. In none can a full-time minimum wage worker afford a modest two-bedroom apartment.

“Every legislator should be talking about the fact that nowhere in Illinois can a full-time minimum wage worker afford rent,” says Sharon Legenza, Executive Director of Housing Action Illinois. “And every candidate seeking an elected office should have a plan for how to change this. Housing should be a source of stability, not insecurity. Voters deserve to know how our elected officials intend to make sure that every one of their constituents has a good, affordable place to call home.”

Out of Reach 2018 finds that average cost of rent and utilities for a two-bedroom apartment in Illinois is $1,058 per month. In order to afford this, a household must earn at least $42,304 annually. Assuming a 40-hour workweek, 52 weeks per year, this level of income translates into a Housing Wage of $20.34.

The cost of rental housing varies across the state, but there is no place in Illinois where a minimum wage worker can afford a two-bedroom apartment. Rental housing is the most expensive in Kendall County, where the Housing Wage is $23.56, followed by the Chicago metropolitan area, where the Housing Wage is $22.69. The lowest that the Housing Wage gets for an average two-bedroom apartment in Illinois is $12.88, which is still more than 1.5 times the minimum wage.

Illinois isn’t alone in having a painfully high Housing Wage. Out of Reach finds that 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.

Out of Reach provides the Housing Wage and other housing affordability data for every state, metropolitan area, combined non-metropolitan area, and county in the country.

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