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107 hours per week

September 13, 2006

107 hours per week. That’s how much you would have to work at a minimum wage job to afford a two-bedroom apartment in DuPage County. There are only 168 hours in a week.

Or look at in another way: the “Housing Wage” in DuPage is $17.33/hour. You have to be making $17.33 an hour to afford a two-bedrooom apartment. Housing is considered “affordable” if it costs no more than 30% of the renter’s income.

How realistic is it to make $17.33 an hour? As a recent college grad, I know that most of my friends are making less than $17.33/hour. Which is fine for us right now–we can share apartments, we don’t have children to support, and worst case scenario–we can always take out a “parent loan.” But what if I was a single mom? If I can’t find a job making $17.33/hour with a college degree (and the support of a full-time career office)…how much harder is it for someone who didn’t have the chance to go to college? Or who was forced to drop out of high school? Or who isn’t fluent in English?

The National Alliance to End Homelessness breaks the problem of homelessness down to a few key causes. First, there is not enough afforadable housing. Second, many people have incomes that are too low to pay for basic living expenses. Finally, it is hard for people to access resources that would allow them to live independently.

DuPage County is one of the wealthiest counties in the country. But high housing costs make it difficult for even families who earn the median income to afford housing. What about all the households who make less than the $72,400 median?

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