Rent…it’s something no renter wants to deal with, yet at the first of every month, renters in 43 million renting units across the country are expected to pay it.
For years, there’s been a debate on how much minimum wage should be to accommodate the cost of living in each community.
According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition’s “2020 Out of Reach” report, to comfortably pay rent in West Virginia, the minimum wage should be around $14.97.
That’s much higher than the current $8.75 state minimum wage.
And looking across the state, the report shows that rent in more urban counties like Kanawha is higher than the state average.
In turn, it also shows rent in more rural counties, like Wood, is lower than the rest of the state.
Although the cost of living differs across the state, Tri-State rental counseling organizations say they’ve seen a drastic jump in prices across the board.
“About 5 years ago we noticed rental prices skyrocketed in preparation for the oil and gas boom. We saw landlords increasing prices of rent all in the anticipation of these individuals coming into our communities, needing a place to live – even if it was temporary,” says Shelene Shrewsbury the Executive Director, Consumer Credit Counseling Service.
Shrewsbury says they saw a trend of median rental prices going from around $450 a month to almost $700 per month.
She also says this trend has made it near impossible for the average family falling under the median income to be able to afford to live in those rental properties
This rent increase has even begun to close the gap between renting and home owning in the area.
“We can easily talk someone through the homebuying process, and they can own a home for a lot less than for rental,”Shelene Shrewsbury, Executive Director
Some residents in the area gave their views on local wages compared to the rent costs.
“It shouldn’t be too big of an ask to be able to afford food or be able to afford medicine. You shouldn’t have to choose between are you going to pay your bills are you going to eat? There shouldn’t be a choice in that,” says Alan Brown.
Another resident, Joshua Jordan says “If your rent is about $550, plus your utility bills, and car payments, you need a little more than $9 an hour.”