Central New York, Community, Consumer

Minimum Wage Doesn’t Cover Cost of Rent in CNY

By Katie Benoit SYRACUSE, N.Y.(NCC NEWS)-  According to a National Low Income Housing Coalition report, the average person needs to earn $28,760 in wages to support themselves in a one-bedroom apartment Onondaga County.  The figure jumps to $36,240 for those renting a two-bedroom apartment.

A local full-time worker being paid the $10.40 minimum hourly wage would earn $21,632 annually, falling well short of what’s needed for basic housing.

“Minimum wage hasn’t really kept up with rents even in a relatively low area like Upstate New York,” Syracuse University economics professor Donald Dutkowsky said.

The report based its findings on people using 30 percent of their income to pay for rent, which is considered around average.  Dutkowsky said that some people are starting to have to use 45 to even 50 percent of their income for rent in bigger cities.

Camillus resident Arieana Myers finds it challenging to pay her rent even though she works two minimum wage jobs.

“Saving is a big struggle because you don’t have a lot of room for yourself of your situation,” she said.

Myers will be moving to Fulton soon and has lined up a job that pays higher than minimum wage. However, she will continue to work part-time at her current job.

Housing is just one of many necessities people need to pay for along with things like gas, food, and prior debt. Syracuse University alumnus Alyssa Riposo is trying to afford an apartment while working for minimum wage at the Syracuse Bookstore.

“I would say it’s quite impossible,” she said.  “The only way I am able to able to make ends meet is because of scholarships and stuff.”

Minimum wage increased this year and will be increasing again in December to $11.10, Dutkowsky said that the rise of minimum wage is trying to keep up inflation. However, it might not be helping with rent.

“So what is rent inflation like that’s the question and for the most part rents go up higher than the inflation rate,” Dutkowsky said.

Lyn Zollo  said she has a child and lives in a one bedroom apartment.

“I hope to be able to afford a two-bedroom come winter, but that will be with two incomes. It’s not possible on one, unless I’d want to live in an unsafe area I think,” she said.

Myers said that she tries to budget by having two accounts. She uses one account to pay for necessary bills.  She says making so little makes it hard to do things like going out to eat and spending time with friends. She also tries not to make impulse purchases.

“Me and my boyfriend have to write everything out, ” she said. “It’s so easy to swipe a card.”