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Chelan-Douglas Trends | Annual income required to afford rent

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More than one-third of households across the nation live in rental housing. Some households have chosen rental housing due to convenience or cost. Others, particularly lower income families, live in rental housing because home ownership is out of reach. Affordable rental housing for this population is important for families and communities as a whole.

At least since the early 1980s, federal housing authorities have suggested that 30 percent of a household’s income is the threshold under which housing is considered affordable. This standard says non-housing needs, such as costs for basic necessities and other monthly bills (food, transportation, childcare, etc.) should be met with 70 percent of a household’s annual income. The larger housing expenses are, the more difficulty families have paying for basic necessities and saving for the future.

Fair-market rent” is a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) term that describes gross rent estimates for privately-owned, decent and safe rental housing, an estimate of what a family can expect to pay for modest rental housing. It includes rent plus the cost of tenant-paid utilities, with the exception of telephones, television and internet services. According to HUD, “fair-market rents” must be high enough to allow for a selection of both units and neighborhoods, and low enough to serve as many low-income families as possible. “Fair-market rent” amounts are used by HUD in the administration of both their certificate and voucher programs.

The “fair-market rent” calculation is made annually for all metropolitan statistical areas.

This indicator measures the annual income required to afford fair market rent in Chelan and Douglas counties combined, for one and two-bedroom rental units. Benton and Franklin counties combined and Walla Walla and Columbia counties combined are offered as benchmarks. 

Where are we?

During 2017, the annual income needed to afford fair-market rent for a one-bedroom living space in:

  • Chelan and Douglas counties combined was $24,320, increasing from $21,160, or by 15 percent since 2008.
  • Benton and Franklin counties combined was $27,480, increasing from $21,120, or by 30 percent since 2008.
  • Walla Walla and Columbia counties combined was $23,040, increasing from $18,760, or by 23 percent since 2008.

During 2017, the annual income needed to afford fair-market rent for a two-bedroom living space in:

  • Chelan & Douglas Counties combined was $32,320, increasing from $26,760, or by 21 percent since 2008.
  • Benton and Franklin counties combined was $34,000, increasing from $26,480, or by 28 percent since 2008.
  • Walla Walla and Columbia counties combined was $36,640, increasing from $24,760, or by 48 percent since 2008.

Source: U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development: Fair Market Rents Documentations System

The Institute for Public Policy and Economic Analysis is a multi-college program at Eastern Washington University. The institute, staff and students, gathered the statistical data, wrote the explanations and designed the Chelan-Douglas Trends website.