Illinois renters must earn nearly $23 per hour to afford rent for a modest two-bedroom apartment

For Immediate Release: July 28, 2022
Contact: Kristin Ginger, Manager of Communications & Development, Housing Action Illinois, or 312-854-3333

 CHICAGO, IL – In order to afford a modest, two-bedroom apartment in Illinois, renters working full-time need to earn $22.80 per hour. This is Illinois’ 2022 Housing Wage, revealed in a national report released today. The report, Out of Reach, was jointly released by the National Low Income Housing Coalition (NLIHC), a nationwide research and advocacy organization, and Housing Action Illinois, a statewide coalition leading the movement to protect and expand affordable housing and end homelessness in Illinois for 35 years.

This year, we release the Out of Reach report amid record-high inflation and rising rental costs. These rent increases are affecting tenants nationwide, with median rents for two-bedroom apartments increasing nearly 18% between the first quarter of 2021 and the first quarter of 2022. At the same time, costs for necessities like food and transportation have also skyrocketed, leaving low-income renters with increasingly tighter budgets. With inflation breaking a 40-year record in 2022, many renters have had to make difficult decisions about their budget, sacrificing childcare, medical care, and food to maintain housing.

Because Black and Latinx workers are more likely than white workers to be employed in sectors with lower median wages, such as the service or production industry, rising rents have a disproportionate impact on communities of color. “Even working multiple jobs, many low-income workers are still not able to afford housing,” stated Leone Jose Bicchieri, Executive Director of Working Family Solidarity. “With very little available affordable housing in the area, many hard-working families are left with few options but to double up multiple families into one apartment just to afford rent. In the richest country on earth, hard-working families shouldn’t live on the edge of homelessness month after month.”

Unlike most other places, Illinois and local governments here have taken necessary action to increase the minimum wage. The federal minimum wage has remained at $7.25 an hour without an increase since 2009, not keeping pace with the high cost of rental housing. The increases in Illinois are helping low wage workers afford their housing and other basic human needs, but minimum wage earners still can’t afford the rent for a modest apartment.

In Illinois, someone working at the state minimum wage of $12 must have 1.6 full-time job(s) or work 64 hours per week to afford a modest one-bedroom apartment. They must have 1.9 full-time job(s) or work 76 hours per week to afford a two-bedroom apartment. While the minimum wage in the Chicago area is higher–$15.40 in the city and $13.35 in Cook County–the Housing Wage in this area is also higher, climbing to $25.77. Even in more affordable counties, the lowest the Housing Wage in Illinois goes is $14.13.

“What we need to address rapidly rising rents is bold federal action,” stated Foluke Akanni, Housing Policy Organizer of Housing Action Illinois. “To address this crisis, we must expand proven programs such as Housing Choice Vouchers, invest in preserving and operating public housing, and commit significant funds to assist people on the brink of–or already experiencing–homelessness.”

Learn more and read the full report:


About Housing Action Illinois

Housing Action Illinois is a statewide coalition that has been leading the movement to protect and expand the availability of quality, affordable housing in Illinois for more than 35 years. Our 160+ member organizations include housing counseling agencies, homeless service providers, developers of affordable housing, and policymakers. We bring everyone together to work toward our vision of an Illinois where everyone has a stable, good home.