BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — According to the latest study by the National Low-Income Housing Coalition, the average American needs to earn $20.40 for a modest one-bedroom apartment and $24.90 an hour to rent a two-bedroom, and in California, those numbers are even worse.
The income required to rent a two-bedroom in California is significantly higher than the state's $14.00 minimum wage.
In California, the fair market rent for a two-bedroom is $2,030. To afford this level of rent and utilities without paying more than 30% of income housing, you must earn 6,766 or 39.05 an hour according to the out-of-reach 2021 report. California is the most expensive state listed.
For Bakersfield, that number is lower at $18.65 an hour which may attract people to move here.
“In Bakersfield this year one needs to earn about $14.28 an hour to afford a one-bedroom or 18.65 cents an hour to afford a two-bedroom. That’s a lot cheaper than San Francisco but unfortunately in cheaper housing markets wages are also corresponding lower," said Dr. Dan Threet, Senior Researcher Analyst, with the National Low-Income Housing Coalition.
Although those numbers are not as shocking as the state average of 39.03, the report shows minimum wage is not enough, and a Bakersfield resident would need to work more than one job to afford a two-bedroom apartment.
“It's not the case that one could just move to a cheaper state. The Bakersfield metro is cheaper than some metros in California, it's not the Bay Area,” said Threet.
Although Bakersfield is one of the cheaper cities in California, there is still a disparity between wages and rental costs.
“We do see that there is a disproportionate amount of people of color that are entering the homeless system, and that is related to housing affordability,” said Heather Kimmel, Assistant Executive Director for Kern County Housing Authority.
For those in Kern County who are having trouble accessing affordable housing, Kimmel offers this solution.
“If you are struggling to pay your rent and you are fearful that when the moratorium is lifted you're going to be facing eviction we encourage you to visit the housing authorities website and apply for the rent and utilities assistance program,” said Kimmel.