Housing report says Louisianans must make $17.82 an hour to afford rent

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Independently owned rental properties offer good homes at reasonable rates and can be found in the newspaper classifieds. Monthly rent in Natchitoches is slightly below the state average. Stock photo of home, actual ads in the Natchitoches Times classifieds.

By William Patrick | The Center Square

•The average rent in Natchitoches is $586.

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When you rent an apartment in Natchitoches, you can expect to pay as little as $400 or as much as $1,000, depending on the location and the size of the apartment according to apartments.com. The site offers listings for apartment complexes and town homes.With the influx of NSU students returning for class, rental properties are being scooped up quickly. A renter perusing the newspaper classifieds can find homes at reasonable rates offered by independent owners.

The average monthly rent for a two-bedroom apartment in Louisiana is $927, according to the National Low-Income Housing Coalition. The group’s newly released “Out of Reach” report analyzed rents throughout all 50 states and emphasizes the need for affordable housing.

The COVID-19 pandemic and related stay-at-home public health orders made housing problems even more dire for many low-income families and individuals, study authors said. “During the peak of the crisis, when it was imperative for everyone to stay home and maintain social distancing, over 580,000 Americans were experiencing homelessness in shelters or on the streets,” the report reads. “Millions more were at severe risk of eviction because interruptions in incomes broke their already-strained budgets.”

Despite the Pelican State ranking in the bottom half of the nation’s most expensive rental states, Louisianans still have to make $17.82 an hour – 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year – to keep up with the oft recommended one-third income limit for living expenses, the report said. Rents were estimated according to fair market value, defined as what a person can expect to pay for a modestly priced rental home in a given area.

“In order to afford this level of rent and utilities — without paying more than 30% of income on housing — a household must earn $3,089 monthly or $37,062 annually,” said the report.

This article published in the Aug. 5, 2021, print edition

For comparison, local apartments and townhouses include:

•The Quad, 3800 University Pkwy,  4 Beds $519 /Person,

•The Cottage, 1000 University Pkwy, studio $400-$1,000

•home: 1 bed on E. 5th St., $400 (forrent.com)

•Melrose Apartments, 100 N Melrose Ave., $725-1,015

•Magnolia Place Townhomes, 388 Rue De Gabriel, is $1,175 for 2 bed/1.5

When compared with the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour, working Louisianans would need two and half jobs to afford a decent roof over their heads. New Orleans requires the highest average hourly housing wage in the state at $20.40. Vernon Parish, Baton Rouge and Lafayette follow behind, requiring $17.33-$19.77 an hour.

Instead of working two and a half full-time jobs at the federal minimum wage, Louisianans would need to work two full-time jobs to afford a one-bedroom rent. According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the 2021 national housing wage for a modest two-bedroom rental is $20.40 an hour. Residents of California must make $39.03 an hour, the highest in the nation.

“Because the federal minimum wage does not rise automatically with inflation, it is worth considerably less today than it was worth in recent decades. If the minimum wage had increased at the rate of productivity growth, it would be over $21 per hour in 2021,” the report said. A COVID-19-related federal eviction moratorium also ended July 31, which could further complicate matters. Louisiana renters and landlords are encouraged to contact HUD for support programs aimed at easing financial housing challenges.

Natchitoches Times staff contributed to this report.