Ohio Jobs Don't Pay Enough to Cover Rent, But Cleveland is Still Promoted as an Affordable Place to Live

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The National Low Income Housing Coalition and the Coalition on Homelessness and Housing in Ohio released a report today revealing that most Ohio jobs don't pay enough to cover the cost of rent.

Ohio's "housing wage" — the hourly wage a renter needs to earn to pay for a basic, two-bedroom unit — increased again this year to $15.25, with our minimum wage currently sitting at $8.30.

The average renter in Ohio earns $13.32 an hour, nearly $2 less than the hourly wage needed to afford a modest two-bedroom rental unit.

Workers earning minimum wage would have to work 74 hours per week throughout the year to afford a two-bedroom apartment.

When looking at the most common jobs for Ohioans, only two of the 10 offer a livable wage for employers.

The eight failing common means of employment like food preparation ($9.40), retail salesperson ($10.41), cashiers ($9.33), laborers and freight movers ($12.66), waiters ($9.45), office clerks ($14.42), janitors ($11.59) and stock clerks ($11.65) fall below what is necessary for someone to afford a modest two bedroom apartment.

Only registered nurses ($30.59) and customer-service representatives ($15.34) offer a housing wage, and customer-service representatives barely make the cut.

Diane Yentel, president and CEO of the National Low Income Housing Coalition, said in a press release that low wage workers often have to choose between paying for rent, health care, childcare, and other basic necessities.

“The administration’s cruel and shortsighted proposals to cut housing benefits would add to the struggles of millions. Rather than threatening the housing stability of families struggling to keep roofs over their heads, Congress must invest in expanding housing solutions that provide stable homes for the lowest income people in our country,” she said.

The report reveals that 41 percent of Cuyahoga County residents are renters, and the housing wage needed is less than the state's average at $15.10. Luckily, the average wage of a renter in Cuyahoga County is $15.38, further promoting Cleveland as "a very affordable, decent place to live."

However, it's important to note that this study is looking at the state and counties on an average level. Cleveland is a big city for those working in the medical field and those higher paying nursing jobs are going to skew the county's average higher in comparison to someone working as a line cook.

Consider the following: Cleveland Clinic is a global juggernaut when it comes to healthcare, but the surrounding neighborhoods have been ravished by poverty. It's difficult to praise Cleveland for its affordability when there are an average of 12 evictions every single day and an enormous waiting list for housing vouchers through CMHA.

After 40 years, the Cleveland Tenants association folded due to a lack of funding, leaving low-income renters without an organization specifically working to educate tenants and landlords, empower the community, and advocate for affordable, fair, and quality rental housing.

Cleveland is currently undergoing a wave of new housing opportunities, many of which are geared as luxury living. While these city developments are targeting new medical and corporate professionals moving to the area, Cleveland residents are still struggling to find affordable housing. In 2016, 48 percent of Cleveland renters were cost burdened.

As Cleveland continues to dig out of the housing crisis, it's important not just to look at the numbers from reports like the one from The National Low Income Housing Coalition, but also analyze and challenge the reasons why the numbers are what they are.

No one working a full time job should ever feel at risk of not being able to pay rent.