The Regional Workforce Housing Strategy helps us understand what contributes to the rents being charged in new construction apartments today. Factoring in land costs, materials, labor, development cost and ongoing operations, we can now expect new construction rents around $1,300/month for a 2 bedroom apartment with about 850 square feet.
If you belong to a household earning over $50,000/year, that rent is higher than you may wish to pay, but depending on your situation it may work with careful budgeting. For hourly income earners, however, the new construction rent is not affordable.
A household with $35,000 annual income would need an approximately $425/mo subsidy to afford this new construction rent. A household with $20,000 annual income would need an extra $800/mo.
Stack those wages up against certain essential job categories in our region, and the need for greater effort on regional workforce housing becomes more clear. According to the National Housing Conference’s Paycheck to Paycheck report:
Restaurant cooks in our area earn an average of $29,930.
Home health and personal care aids: $28,820
Preschool teachers: $28,410
Teaching assistants: $28,350
In all, the Regional Workforce Housing Strategy estimates there are currently 41,000 workers in our region earning wages even lower - under $25,000/year - and these folks are unable to afford almost any rents in our community unless they double up in housing with another income earner.
We are having this conversation about regional workforce housing so that these workers - who are essential in our communities - will be able to afford to live in our communities as the region grows.
Related document: Download the region's workforce housing strategy: