Thu June 16, 2011

Low-Income Earners Struggle to Find Affordable Housing

State housing officials say it’s increasingly difficult for low-income wage earners to find affordable housing – because most rental units are priced outside of their means.

Almost half of renters in Colorado are considered to be rent burdened – meaning they are spending 30% or more of their monthly income on housing. That’s across all income levels… but the burden becomes especially heavy for those who earn less than the state’s median salary of $55,735 a year.

“As you might expect, we find the majority of these, a bare majority – 51% of people who are rent-burdened - are found down at the $20,000 per year level or lower,” says Colorado Division of Housing spokesman Ryan McMaken.

One big challenge for those at the lowest income levels is the lack of affordable units – but McMaken says the availability varies by region.  Boulder and Ft. Collins/Loveland have the greatest mismatch between the need for affordable rentals and their availability.  Grand Junction, Pueblo and Greeley had the best ratio of affordable housing to need.