Cooper, data agree: Florence is sure to worsen NC’s affordable rental housing problem

Cooper, data agree: Florence is sure to worsen NC’s affordable rental housing problem

Image courtesy: NCDOT

On Sunday, Governor Roy Cooper declared that affordable housing would be a key focus in the recovery from Hurricane Florence. As the Durham Herald-Sun reported:

“Cooper said once the storm passes and towns start to rebuild, there will be an emphasis on housing that is affordable.

‘There’s a concern about affordable housing all over the state, in urban areas but particularly in southeastern North Carolina where we are seeing such significant devastation,’ Cooper said. ‘I know the Department of Emergency Management, Mike (Sprayberry) and I have had significant conversations about that with our partners with how we need to aim toward that goal.’”

Click here to watch a brief video of the Governor’s remarks.

Of course, North Carolina’s lack of affordable housing stock was an issue well before Hurricanes Florence and Matthew. Appropriations to the state’s main affordable housing programs has remained essentially flat and comparatively paltry for years. The award-winning North Carolina Housing Trust Fund received just $7.66 million in the FY 2019 budget, while the “Workforce Housing Loan Program” received just $20 million and the “HOME match” received only $3 million.

What’s more, the North Carolina Housing Coalition reported before the most recent storm that:

  • more than 500,000 North Carolina renters already pay more than half of their income on rent, and
  • 43% of North Carolina renter households can’t afford a modest, two bedroom apartment.

Data from the National Low Income Housing Coalition’s “Out of Reach 2018” report shed even more light on this subject. The report found that North Carolina ranks 34th in the country in terms of the “housing wage” required to rent a modest, two-bedroom apartment.

For those earning the minimum wage ($7.25 an hour), it would take working 90 hours per week, 52 weeks per year to afford that same two bedroom rental property.

Here are a few other numbers to factor in as the state begins discussing what is needed to help North Carolinians impacted by Florence return to safe, affordable housing:

  • $708 – The monthly fair market rent for a one-bedroom apartment in North Carolina
  • $850 – The monthly fair market rent for a two-bedroom apartment in North Carolina
  • 1,343,669 – The number of renter households in North Carolina
  • 35 – The percentage of North Carolinians who are renters.

In areas where some of the most dramatic flooding from Florence occurred, the rental picture doesn’t get any better (and is sure to get worse now that thousands of units have been lost or damaged.

The following data come from the “Out of Reach 2018” report:

In Craven County:

  • 14,907 – The total number of renters
  • 37 – The percentage of households that rent
  • $917 – The monthly fair market rent for a two-bedroom apartment
  • $36,680 – The annual income needed to afford that two-bedroom apartment
  • $17.63 – The hourly wage needed to afford a two-bedroom apartment
  • 2.4 – The number of full-time jobs a minimum wage worker would need to work to afford a two-bedroom apartment

In the New Hanover county/Wilmington area:

  • 38,010 – The total number of renters
  • 42 – The percentage of households that rent
  • $993 – The monthly fair market rent for a two-bedroom apartment
  • $19.10 – The hourly wage needed to afford that two-bedroom apartment
  • 2.6 – The number of full time jobs a minimum wage worker would need to work to afford a two-bedroom apartment at fair-market rate in New Hanover County

In Cumberland County:

  • 59,279 – The number of renters
  • 48 – The percentage of households that rent
  • $819 – The monthly fair market rent for a two-bedroom apartment
  • $15.75 – The hourly wage needed to afford that two-bedroom apartment
  • 2.2 – The number of full time jobs a minimum wage worker would need to work to afford a two-bedroom apartment

In Robeson County:

  • 16,547 – The number of renters
  • 36 – The percentage of households that rent
  • $683 – The monthly fair market rent for a two-bedroom apartment
  • $13.13 – The hourly wage needed to afford that two-bedroom apartment
  • 1.8 – The number of full-time jobs a minimum wage worker would need to work to afford a two-bedroom apartment

How much would it cost you to find a decent rental property in your county? Visit the Out of Reach 2018 state report.

Click below to watch Gov. Cooper discuss affordable housing in the aftermath of Florence: