Housing Costs Continue To Hammer Arizona Workers

September 6, 2023

By Daniel Stefanski |

Arizona’s housing costs continue to climb at a concerning rate for minimum-wage workers.

The National Low Income Housing Coalition recently released its annual report, showing how much renters need to earn to afford a modest apartment in each state across the United States. Arizona checked in with the 12th highest housing wage among all 50 states and the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.

According to the report, Arizonans need to bring home $29.93 an hour to afford a two-bedroom rental home. Individuals would need to work 86 hours each week at the state’s $13.85 minimum wage to hold onto that two-bedroom apartment – or 71 hours for a one-bedroom rental.

In comparison, Arizona’s neighbor to the west, California, has the highest housing wage in the country. California renters must make $42.25 an hour to afford a two-bedroom rental home, and the state’s minimum wage workers ($15.50/hour) would need to toil for 109 hours each week to maintain their living arrangements.

Arkansas took the trophy for the State with the lowest housing wage around the union with a $16.27 per hour rate required to afford a two-bedroom rental home and only 59 hours of employment per week at minimum wage ($11.00/hour).

Arizona has 2,683,557 total households according to the report, and 917,899 of those households classified as renters (34% of households in the state). The percentage of renters in California is 45% of total households, while that number is 34% in Arkansas.

The report shows that the fair market rent for a 1-bedroom apartment in Arizona is $1,287 and $1,556 for a 2-bedroom apartment. The median renter household income ($52,391) would support a monthly payment of $1,310 for an apartment.

Addressing the increasing housing costs for the state was a priority for Arizona legislators, though those efforts produced few results. Republican lawmakers were able to strike a deal with Democrat Governor Katie Hobbs during the final stretch of the extended session to prohibit the rental tax for Arizona tenants. Arizona Senate Republicans claimed that “approximately 70 municipalities within our state charge this tax,” and that “this tax can cost as much as $200 per month.”

Senate Majority Whip Sine Kerr applauded the signing of this bill, explaining how important the removal of rental taxes across the state would be for countless Arizonans. She stated, “Rental prices aren’t going down anytime soon, and Arizona tenants are agonizing over just how much more expensive it is now to rent an apartment or house than ever before. For Metro Phoenix, June of this year saw the second-highest monthly total of evictions since the 2008 Great Recession. According to Maricopa County records, landlords filed to evict nearly 7000 times last month. We needed to act promptly. This bill will provide some help, and I’m proud the Majority Caucus spearheaded this change in tax policy.”

Daniel Stefanski is a reporter for AZ Free News. You can send him news tips using this link.

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