Thank you [to the] Neighbor Newspapers for asking our state legislators about their priorities for the 2014 legislative session [Jan. 8, page 1A].
Unaddressed by these leaders is a situation that U.S. Housing and Urban Development Secretary Shaun Donovan warned about, saying “We are in the midst of the worst rental affordability crisis that this country has known.”
Housing is considered affordable if the payment is less than 30 percent of income. But, currently more than half of renters are burdened with payments that consume more than 30 percent of their income. Worse still, one in four renters is paying more than 50 percent of their income for housing. This crisis is even more pronounced here in Sandy Springs since our city has a much higher rate of renters than is typical elsewhere.
At the core of this problem is declining wages. According to a study released last summer by the National Employment Law Project (http://bit.ly/1jdNdoT), during the recession of 2007, 60 percent of the workers who lost their jobs were earning between $13.84 and $21.13 per hour. But the most available jobs in the recovery have only been paying between $7.69 to $13.83 per hour. Worker incomes took a hit, but their costs didn’t budge much.
Our legislators should acknowledge this crisis and respond by raising the minimum wage or at the very least allow cities to raise it.