Renters must earn more than $20 per hour to afford two-bedroom apartment, but fresh investments will begin to alleviate housing costs and address homelessness

For Immediate Release: June 18, 2019
For more information contact: Kristin Ginger, Communications Manager, Housing Action Illinois, or 312-854-3333

CHICAGO, ILIn order to afford a modest, two-bedroom apartment in Illinois, renters need to earn $20.85 per hour. This is Illinois’ 2019 Housing Wage, revealed today in Out of Reach 2019, a national report jointly released in Illinois by Chicago-based Housing Action Illinois and DC-based National Low Income Housing Coalition.

Map of 2BR Housing WageOut of Reach 2019 finds that average cost of rent and utilities for a two-bedroom apartment in Illinois is $1,084 per month. In order to afford this without spending more than 30% on housing costs, a household must earn at least $43,366 annually. Assuming a 40-hour workweek, 52 weeks per year, this level of income translates into a Housing Wage of $20.85.

“The good news is that we’ve just made some crucial investments in affordable housing in Illinois,” says Bob Palmer, Policy Director of Housing Action Illinois. “We secured $200 million in capital budget funding for affordable housing, and we secured $9 million for the Homeless Prevention Program in next year’s budget. We need to seize every opportunity to build on accomplishments like these in order to help our communities thrive.”

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. Illinois’ minimum wage is $8.25 per hour, meaning that a minimum-wage earner must work 101 hours per week just to make ends meet. The lowest that the Housing Wage gets for an average two-bedroom apartment in Illinois is $13.40.

Rental housing is the most expensive in Kendall County, where the Housing Wage is $23.75, followed by the Chicago metropolitan area, where the Housing Wage is $23.31.

“Such high housing costs make it difficult for employers to bring new jobs to our state,” says Sharon Legenza, Executive Director of Housing Action Illinois. “It also makes it hard for us to keep Illinoisans in Illinois—this is the fifth year in a row that our state’s population has gone down. No one should have to choose between paying rent and buying medicine or groceries. We need to continue to invest in our communities so that everyone in Illinois can afford a good home.”

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. Learn more and read the full report at