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Here's what you need to make an hour to afford living in parts of western Washington

It takes a person earning as much as $60 an hour to afford two-bedroom housing in parts of Seattle.

SEATTLE — The average hourly salary in Seattle is $24, but it costs nearly double that to afford two-bedroom housing throughout the metro area.

The National Low Income Housing Coalition broke down what people need to earn hourly at their jobs in order to live in parts of Western Washington.

Here's a breakdown by a few areas:

  • Seattle metro: $40-$60 per hour
  • Snohomish County: $33-$40 per hour
  • South King County: $33-$40 per hour
  • Pierce County: $25-$31 per hour

The average one-bedroom apartment in downtown Seattle runs about $2,300 a month, according to Kim Reidy, senior broker and relocation director at Pointe3 Real Estate for Seattle Rental Group.

"Big big thing to get a door in your bedroom in Seattle,” Reidy said. “You don't get as many single-family homes for rent in the Seattle areas. The prices have the tendency to be more inflated."

Reidy said there tends to be less competition for rentals in Snohomish and Pierce counties.

"We definitely have to have hard conversations about moving a little bit further distance," Reidy said. "Going further north or south, it's usually the goal."

If you work in Seattle, but cannot afford to live there – driving farther north and south could save you some money on rent, but there are other costs to consider.

"Driving further away to an apartment that are home that they qualify for - they make up for that those savings in gas and car maintenance and mileage every single day and time away from their families," said Chris Collier, program manager at the Housing Authority of Snohomish County.

Collier said the challenge for affordable housing was happening before the pandemic. 

"In 2019, for example, 93% of the city of Lynnwood's workforce did not work did not live and work there," Collier said. "They lived somewhere else. Maybe they live in Everett, maybe they lived further north. But even before the pandemic, even before the current iteration of the housing crisis that we're in right now, people were living quite far away from where they work."

With rental prices expected to only get higher - more people may be priced out of their desired area. The Housing Authority of Snohomish County found that many people cannot afford to rent or buy an apartment or home in the cities they work in.

An annual salary of $100,000 may seem like a solid income, but Collier said that income is not enough to buy a single-family home in most parts of Snohomish County. A second income is needed along with a wider consideration of where you live.

"People that make less than $100,000 a year, which by the way, is over half the region's workforce, almost two million people, about half of them make below $100,000 a year, in the middle of their career," Collier said.

When it comes to supply and demand, Collier said are about 50,000 units of housing behind across Washington state. If not much changes, Collier said the state will be about 800,000 units behind by 2040.

Gov. Jay Inslee is proposing that $4B be used to provide housing as a solution to what he calls the state's "scourge of homelessness" while some of those funds could go toward affordable housing for lower- and middle-income workers and down payment assistance for low-income first-time homebuyers.


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