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State’s ‘housing wage’ rising

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The income needed by a family to afford housing in North Carolina has increased nearly 20 percent since 2000, a new report says.

The report, “Out of Reach 2006,” was released by the Washington, D.C.-based National Low Income Housing Coalition in conjunction with the North Carolina Housing Coalition.

The report says North Carolina’s “housing wage,” defined as the amount household must earn to pay rent and utilities, is $12.61 an hour, assuming the worker is on the job 40 hours a week, 52 weeks a year.

That wage, which is more than twice the current minimum wage, earns North Carolina the title of the nation’s 22nc most-expensive state, the study says.

The highest housing wage in the state is in the Raleigh/Cary metro area, at $16.35 an hour, just four cents more than the national housing wage.

Slightly more than half the renters in Wilmington and Greenville are unable to afford housing, the highest rate in the state, the study says, and a shortage of federal funding for rental assistance means many families in nearly every community in the state find themselves on long waiting lists for help.

The fallback for these families is often substandard housing or homeless shelters.

The North Carolina Housing Coalition is supported by the A.J. Fletcher Foundation, which publishes the Philanthropy Journal.

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