In these uncertain times, one thing that is certain is that housing costs are going up and up. The National Low Income Housing Coalition just released its annual report, “Out of Reach: The High Cost of Housing.” NLIHC tracks the “housing wage” for both states and municipalities across the country. The housing wage is what a worker would have to earn to afford an average two-bedroom apartment. While the national minimum wage is $7.25/hour (and has been the same since 2009), the housing wage in the United States is nearly three times that amount at $21.21/hour. In fact, rent is affordable to low-wage workers in only 12 counties in the entire country. None of those counties are in Texas.
In Austin, the housing wage is slightly higher than the national average. A worker would need to earn $22.98/hour ($47,800/year) to afford a two-bedroom home. If you are a minimum wage worker, you would need to work 127 hours per week (52 weeks a year!) to afford a two-bedroom home. These are pretty sobering statistics.
Thanks to local affordable housing dollars, leveraged through the federal Low Income Housing Tax Credit Program (LIHC), Foundation Communities recently opened the doors at Lakeline Station Apartments. The 150-unit community offers one, two, and three-bedroom apartments, as well as a range of onsite amenities to support its residents and their families.
One of the prominent benefits of Lakeline Station is its proximity to public transportation. For most families, transportation costs are often only second to housing costs in the family budget. The average cost of automobile ownership is around $10,000 a year, which is out of reach for many low-income families. Fortunately, Lakeline Station is located near Cap Metro’s Metro Rail that provides commuter rail service from Leander to Downtown Austin.
In this month’s Keep Austin Affordable feature, we meet Lulee Guerrero who is advancing her job skills, working part-time, and raising a family in Foundation Communities’ Lakeline Station Apartments. She is juggling a lot of responsibilities. But with an affordable home, a safe community, an onsite learning center for her children, job training at Austin Community College, and access to affordable, dependable public transportation, Lulee is on track for success.