BOSTON– A new report confirms something that almost every Bostonian probably knows: we pay too much for housing and we don't make enough money for it.
That second point is really the crux of the issue, though. Because, duh, rent in a highly populated city with as many amenities as Boston is going to be higher than rural Maine. But the balance should be that we also get paid way more than the average person in rural Maine. And the truth is, we're not making nearly enough.
According to the study: "In Massachusetts, the Fair Market Rent (FMR) for a two-bedroom apartment is $1,758. In order to afford this level of rent and utilities — without paying more than 30% of income on housing — a household must earn $5,861 monthly or $70,333 annually. Assuming a 40-hour work week, 52 weeks per year, this level of income translates into an hourly Housing Wage of: $33.81."
That's saying that in order to reasonably afford a two-bedroom in Boston, the household income ought to be $70k a year. Even worse, at the current minimum wage of $12/hr, you would have to work 91 hours a week to reasonably afford a two-bedroom rental.
But hold on, people don't work 91 hours, and they live and rent on low wages in Boston. How does this work?
Well, the report defines "reasonably afford" as: not spending more than 30% of your income on housing and utilities. But in reality, most Boston renters probably spend a much much higher percentage of their wages on housing and utilities.
Alright, these numbers are looking bad. To make it worse, MA is more expensive than other major states such as New York, D.C., Pennsylvania, and literally everyone else aside from California (#2) and Hawaii (#3).
Lastly, I'd encourage you to check out the bottom part of the report. It lists all the jobs that can't reasonably afford these apartments, and it's most jobs in Massachusetts. Jobs that don't make enough: cashiers, waiters, janitors, teaching assistants, administrative assistants, truck drivers, the list goes on. This is of particular concern to those who hope that Boston will remain a city that draws young professionals and entrepreneurs. Millennials - that's young adults from their late twenties to early forties - are significantly poorer than older generations. And, sure enough, the average age in Boston is getting older.
Only a select few jobs such as software engineers, accountants, nurses/doctors can reasonably afford these housing prices.
Clearly, something has to change.