- Associated Press - Tuesday, June 13, 2017

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - Residents in 10 New Mexico counties must earn $15 an hour or more to rent a two-bedroom apartment without having to spend more than 30 percent of their income, according to data released by an affordable housing advocacy group.

The report, issued last week by the Washington, D.C.-based National Low Income Housing Coalition, found that a household in New Mexico had to earn on average of $32,825 a year to afford a modest two-bedroom apartment and utilities.

In Santa Fe County, where the minimum wage is $11.09, a household had to earn about double that for a two-bedroom. That’s the most expensive place in the state for rent, the study found.

With a statewide minimum wage of $7.50 an hour in New Mexico, one of the poorest states in the nation, the study says residents would have to work 84 hours at that salary to afford a two-bedroom rental.

“This tells the story about the poverty conditions in New Mexico,” said Sen. Michael Padilla, an Albuquerque Democrat. “I’m glad the data is there now.”

Overall, the National Low Income Housing Coalition found that nowhere in the United States could a household afford a two-bedroom home on a minimum wage salary. The study used U.S. Census data and calculated average fair market rents developed by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The fair market rent for a two-bedroom apartment in New Mexico is $821, the report said.

The study also used the 30 percent benchmark outlined in federal guidelines. Families that pay more than that for housing likely have difficulty paying for other necessities such as food, clothing, transportation and medical care.

The report comes as programs targeting low-income housing are facing threats and after New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez vetoed legislation seeking to increase the state’s minimum wage.

“Our small businesses are the backbone of our state’s economy, and those businesses, especially those in rural areas, cannot sustain the changes this bill put forth,” the Republican governor said in rejecting legislation that would have increased the wage to $9.25.

Democrat Rep. Patricia Roybal Caballero of Albuquerque said the report shows New Mexico needs to raise its minimum wage to around $15.

Terri Cole, president and CEO of the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce, said businesses are willing to discuss raising the wage but want to make sure they can stay in business and remain competitive.

“We have an employability problem that needs to be addressed,” she said. “A lot of businesses are having a hard time finding employees with the needed skills.”

___

Follow Russell Contreras on Twitter at https://twitter.com/russcontreras

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide