For some Iowans, there’s too big a gap between the paycheck and the rent check. Charlie Wishman with the Iowa Citizen Action Network says there are too many wage-earners who don’t make what the group calls a “housing wage.” He says the housing wage is the hourly rate an individual would have to earn in order to afford a modest two-bedroom apartment and not spend more than 30-percent of that income on housing.
The Iowa Coalition on Housing and the Homeless does a yearly survey of rental costs for low-income families struggling to keep a roof over their heads. Wishman says Iowa needs to raise the minimum wage. “That’s a very important key that’s going to help people succeed and earn a better wage so that they are able to afford housing for their families.” He says job training and work support also would help more earn enough to meet their needs.
Wishman says the Labor Health and Human Services budget is targeted for major cuts in Congress by the Bush administration. The group’s calling for full funding for programs like job training that could move people into the position of earning a housing wage. He says they want people to tell their representatives in Washington to support raising the federal minimum wage, too. More affordable housing would help, though Wishman says budgets for housing programs have been slashed in recent years too.