Workers Are Struggling to Pay Their Rent


It’s well documented that despite growing corporate profits, wages have remained flat for most workers. And for those struggling to get by, that has real consequences in their daily lives – especially when it comes to keeping a roof over their heads.

A new report by Zillow Research, Boston University and the University of Pennsylvania finds that homelessness grows substantially in communities where workers are spending more than 32 percent of their paychecks on rent. It cites the lack of income growth as a main driver in why families are paying an increasing percentage of their earnings for housing needs.

The document notes the U.S. median rent has risen 11 percent over the past five years, requiring renters earning the national median income to spend 28.2 percent of their earnings on a typical rental. That’s up from 25.8 percent historically, and far above the 17.7 percent that median-income households buying a typical home today spend on their monthly mortgage payment.

As it stands, the price of rent exceeds the 32 percent threshold in 100 of the 386 markets outlined in the report, led by Monroe County in South Florida, where the median market rate rent consumes 62.9 percent of the area’s median household income.

Renters on the bottom rung are at risk of falling completely off the housing ladder if their rents rise even a small amount. In places like Los Angeles, for example, if affordability worsens by two percentage points – meaning renters are required to spend 51 percent of their income on a typical apartment, up from 49 percent at the time of the drafting of the report – the number of homeless is likely to rise by an additional 4,227 people, or six percent above estimated 2017 levels.

Ultimately, better pay is what is needed to improve workers’ lives. And that’s what union jobs bring to their members, who on average make $11,000 a year more than non-union workers. That’s real Teamster Power! That’s why more hardworking Americans need to stand up for their rights and join a union.

Workers should be able to live a life of dignity. That means being able to have a place to call their own. But due to corporate greed, salaries aren’t keeping up. It’s time for lawmakers to push for sustainable wages so working families can afford the basics of life.

With new leadership coming to state capitals and Washington, D.C., the opportunity is here. Now, the people need action!