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Study finds you'd need to make $15.16 an hour to afford two-bedroom apartment in Michigan

May 28, 2015

An apartment building in Detroit
Credit Joseph Wingenfeld / Flickr

To afford an average two-bedroom apartment in Michigan, you would need to make $15.16 an hour, according to a recent study done by the National Low Income Housing Coalition. 

The hourly housing wage was derived under a few assumptions, the most significant being that the cost of rent and utilities shouldn't exceed 30% of a person's total income. 

That's the cutoff point after which U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development considers a family to be cost-burdened by housing -- possibly struggling to pay for other expenses like food. 

That's also assuming the rent is being collected at a full-time job, 40 hours a week, and that the renter is paying "Fair Market Rent" (again based off of HUD numbers), which in Michigan is $788 a month for a two-bedroom apartment. 

The study calculated hourly housing wages by county. According to the authors, the most expensive place to rent in Michigan is in Washtenaw County, where NLIHC calculated a housing wage of $18.54.

The report comes as groups like Raise Michigan are protesting and lobbying to raise Michigan's $8.15 minimum wage, a move that's also found support from the President.

Clearly, housing is just one metric by which to measure the cost of living, but other studies have come to similar conclusions about wages.

Researchers out of MIT have calculated a metric that combines housing, food, child care, medical, transportation, and tax expenses into one "living wage."

This is broken down into different types of households (i.e. one adult; one adult, one child; two adults). According to this living wage metric, to support a household of two adults (who might live in a two bedroom place) one of those adults needs to be making $16.35 an hour. One adult supporting one child, however, needs to make at least $21.31 an hour.

- Paula Friedrich, Michigan Radio Newsroom