The National Low Income Housing Coalition’s 2018 Study found that the average Colorado resident needs to make at least $23.93 per hour to afford a two bedroom apartment, which is the 11th highest “housing wage” in the US.
The NLIHC 2018 report calculates the number of hours a minimum wage earning employee needs to work per week in order to afford a two bedroom apartment. The apartments were at Fair Market Rent which is annually determined by the federal government. Fair Market Rent estimates what it would cost to rent apartments in a particular area. This year's report reveals that affordable housing is still out of reach in Colorado and across the country.
For residents of Denver- Aurora- Lakewood MSA they would need to earn $27.27 per hour, or $56,720 annually, in order to afford a two bedroom apartment without spending more than 30% of their income on rent. Currently, the estimated median household income of a renter in the Denver MSA is $44,639, which is $12,081 behind the $56,720 mark. The housing wage is more affordable in Colorado Springs with workers needing to earn $19.62 an hour. Boulder Metro is more expensive with workers needing to earn $28.10 hourly in order to afford a two bedroom apartment.
Although the new Colorado minimum wage of $10.20 surpasses the federal minimum wage of $7.25, the average Colorado worker would need to work 74 hours a week to afford a small, one- bedroom rental. A worker living in Denver would need to work 85 hours a week to afford the same one-bedroom apartment.
In order to help solve some of the issues surrounding affordable housing in Colorado, Governor Hickenlooper signed a bill that extended the Colorado Affordable Housing Tax Credit program through 2024. The AHTC program gives tax credits to developers who build affordable housing.