May is National Affordable Housing Month. Affordable housing is defined as consuming no more than 30% of a household’s gross income. This percentage allows families to comfortably pay for their monthly housing costs while still having money left for other basic necessities such as food and transportation.
Unfortunately, that is not the case for many Coloradoans. Several of our neighbors are cost-burdened, spending more than half of their income on housing. Severely cost-burdened households are more likely than other renters to sacrifice other necessities such as healthy food and healthcare to pay the rent, and to experience unstable housing situations including unsafe housing and evictions. Many people who are cost-burdened think about education, career advancement, or other things to improve their station but it is difficult when they are struggling just to keep a roof over their head.
Colorado is ranked as the 8th most expensive state by the National Low Income Housing Coalition. 22% of the state’s total population are extremely low income, meaning they make less than 30% of the mean average income. For all of Colorado, the average rent on a modest one-bedroom apartment is $1,221. In Lakewood, that number jumps to $1,888.
For context, that means that a minimum wage worker ($13.65/hour) would have to work 72 hours EVERY week just to afford a modest one-bedroom.
Throughout the month of May, Metro West Housing Solutions will share on its social media channels some of the sobering statistics about affordable housing. The more we know about the problem, the more we can work together to find sustainable solutions.