Report: Maine among least affordable states for renters

A report by the National Low Income Housing Coalition has put Maine among the states where it’s hardest to afford housing and rated the Bangor and Portland areas as equally difficult to make rent on a two-bedroom apartment.

The report compared federal estimates of fair-market rent for a two-bedroom apartment with wage data from states and metro areas, measuring where the gap is the largest.

New England had a disproportionate presence in the top 10 states, ranked by that disparity.

The group estimated that in Maine, ranked ninth, the average renter brings home $10.36 an hour, but would need a wage of $17.04 in order to spend no more than 30 percent of monthly income on housing.

Within Maine, the report found the southernmost York-Kittery-South Berwick housing market was the most expensive for renters, requiring an annual income of about $47,840 per year to afford a two-bedroom apartment at fair-market value.

Those areas are broader than just the individual cities or towns, including many suburbs and surrounding communities. (See page 3 of this Maine report for details on which communities are covered in the categories below.)

View the full Maine-specific report here.

Measured by the gap between average renter wages and what you’d need to earn to spend just 30 percent of income on rent, the report found in Bangor and Portland that the wage to afford a two-bedroom apartment is about 1.8 times the average wage.

The report separately compared wages required to afford housing with local minimum wages. It found areas that decided to raise wages above the federal minimum still had a gap between the affordability of one- and two-bedroom rentals, as measured by fair-market rental prices from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The report concluded that the applicable minimum wage would not be sufficient in any state, metro area or county to afford a two-bedroom apartment and the average wage was sufficient to spend only 30 percent of income on rent in twelve counties and metro areas.

Explore the full report here

Darren Fishell

About Darren Fishell

Darren is a Portland-based reporter for the Bangor Daily News writing about the Maine economy and business. He's interested in putting economic data in context and finding the stories behind the numbers.