Housing Troubles in Alaska

A lot of Alaskan families simply cannot afford adequate housing. The following summary comes from the Out of Reach 2005 report from the National Low Income Housing Coalition:

In Alaska, the Fair Market Rent (FMR) for a two-bedroom apartment is $905. In order to afford this level of rent and utilities, without paying more than 30% of income on housing, a household must earn $3,016 monthly or $36,193 annually. Assuming a 40-hour work week, 52 weeks per year, this level of income translates into a Housing Wage of $17.40.

In Alaska, a minimum wage worker earns an hourly wage of $7.15. In order to afford the FMR for a two-bedroom apartment, a minimum wage earner must work 97 hours per week, 52 weeks per year. Or, a household must include 2.4 minimum wage earner(s) working 40 hours per week year-round in order to make the two bedroom FMR affordable.

In Alaska, the estimated mean (average) wage for a renter is $12.57 an hour. In order to afford the FMR for a two-bedroom apartment at this wage, a renter must work 55 hours per week, 52 weeks per year. Or, working 40 hours per week year-round, a household must include 1.4 worker(s) earning the mean renter wage in order to make the two-bedroom FMR affordable.

Monthly Supplemental Security Income (SSI) payments for an individual are $579 in Alaska. If SSI represents an individual’s sole source of income, $174 in monthly rent is affordable, while the FMR for a one-bedroom is $721.

A unit is considered affordable if it costs no more than 30% of the renter’s income.

The National Low Income Housing Coalition is an extraordinary resource that has a lot of detailed information on every state including Alaska. I urge you to spend some time touring the Coalition web site to see what a magnificent resource it is on this most important issue of housing and homelessness in Alaska, and nationally.

See also the Executive Summary of the 2005 Alaska Housing Assessment, Part I, for more information on this subject. Finally, get on the mailing list of the Alaska Coalition on Housing and Homelessness for the latest information, and to find out how you can influence public policy affecting these matters.


Posted on January 5, 2006, in General, Low-Income Families. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Jeannette Lacey

    Let’s also remember that we are discussing gross income. Even if a wage earner does earn $17.40 per hour, 40 hours per week, there are still taxes that are deducted before you can consider available income, not to mention health insurance (if available) costs. Once those deductions are made, an individual may be bringing home roughly $2,225 per month and rent of $905 would be about 40% of available income. Is one income of $17.40 per hour enough to afford a $905/month apartment? I think it would be pretty tight, considering the possibility of children in the home and the need for child care and the associated costs to working parents. Full-time child care may cost $500-$600/child per month in Juneau. This is beyond the scope, but is a work related cost to parents who must provide housing.

    I understand the unit is considered “affordable” if it costs no more than 30% of a gross income, but I believe that when rent is nearly half of the income a person brings home or more, it is not affordable, and/or the wage is not livable.

    Jeannette Lacey

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