Who Can Afford to Buy Or Rent a Home?

According to a recent report from the National Low Income Housing Coalition, Virginia is one of the most challenging states for low-wage workers to find affordable housing. For instance, the minimum wage in Virginia is $7.25 per hour. In order to afford the Fair Market Rent for a two-bedroom apartment, a typical minimum-wage earner in Virginia must work 114 hours per week, 52 weeks per year. This schedule and workload is untenable, especially for workers trying to raise families.

Graph: Rent vs. income
(Click to enlarge)

The chart at left compares median Richmond-area rents against the average annual incomes of several local minimum-wage jobs. As you can see, securing a decent apartment in Greater Richmond is out of reach for many low-income workers; and many give up hope of ever being able to buy a home and build equity (see chart below).

Graph - median home prices vs. incomes
(Click to enlarge)

These data underscore challenges facing the lowest income renters: increasing rents, stagnant wages, and a shortage of affordable housing. One solution is to increase the number of affordable housing units for sale and rent.

“The healthiest communities are those with mixed incomes,” said Bob Newman, vice president and chief operating officer of the Better Housing Coalition. “High-quality affordable housing creates more opportunities and choices leading to stable and thriving neighborhoods.”


Fulfilling BHC’s mission takes much collaboration and partnership between state and local governments, housing organizations, and the support of corporations, foundations and individuals. On behalf of the thousands of residents who are leading better lives, thank you for your support!



  1. This article is true, but part of the problem stems from people being locked out of housing due to bad credit or judgments against them. Unfortunately, that keeps people homeless or in substandard living conditions. All of us deserve a chance to live/thrive and not just survive and exist! Wage earners earning between $7.25 and $14.00 per hour have difficulty securing affordable rentals for apartments or houses. It is like we are the outside looking in and being left out at the same time. Thank you for writing this article because it was helpful and informative.

  2. It is high time that local government and federal entities pay attention to the housing shortage and actually prioritize funding for affordable units for sale and rent.


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