Renting an apartment at fair market prices in the Lafayette area would require someone earning more than $17 an hour, a housing advocacy group has said.
A modest two-bedroom unit at fair rent in Lafayette, where 31% of households are renters, would require an hourly wage of $17.12, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition’s Out of Reach 2022 report.
The fair market rent for a two-bedroom unit is $920. To achieve this without exceeding the recommended 30% of household income on housing, a household must earn $3,065 per month or $36,786 per year, the report says.
Lafayette’s necessary hourly wage is just below the state average of $17.69. Louisiana is ranked 34th in the nation.
Rents have risen in Lafayette and across the country over the past two years as real estate prices soared amid high demand and low supply during the coronavirus pandemic. Median rents for two-bedroom apartments increased by almost 18% between the first quarter of 2021 and the first quarter of 2022.
In Lafayette, rents have fallen slightly but remain 22% above pre-pandemic levels. The median rate for a one-bedroom unit in Lafayette is $957 with a median rate for a two-bedroom unit at $1,136, according to apartmentlist.com, which monitors rental rates across the country.
Rates have fallen since March, when the median rate for a one-bedroom apartment was $1,066 and a two-bedroom was $1,295.
Three low-income apartment complexes are open or will open soon in Lafayette. Hundreds of single-family rental properties are also planned, many of which will charge rents of up to more than $2,000 per month.
Tenants are also being affected by inflation, said Andreanecia Morris, president of HousingLOUISIANA. Housing issues, she noted, amplify other problems with residents struggling to pay rent.
For people earning minimum wage, it would take two full-time jobs or work 81 hours a week to afford a modest one-bedroom apartment, the report says. A two-bedroom unit would require 2.4 full-time jobs or work 98 hours a week.
“These numbers confirm that the consequences of COVID, combined with the inaction of our leaders, have set us on a path that the state may not recover from,” Morris said. “We urge politicians to act now and stop ignoring a crisis that the rest of us don’t have the luxury of ignoring. The lack of affordable housing is the number one problem in most Louisiana communities, and the second biggest problem is that our leaders have chosen not to address it.